Toaru Majutsu no Index:Volume19 Chapter3
Chapter 3: Destruction will open up a wider path. Battle_to_Die.
Accelerator and the others got back to the limo.
The atmosphere was incredibly tense.
Though there hadn’t been anything like an atmosphere of them getting along to begin with, now it was at the point they would bare fangs at each other. It was at the point small animals would die of fright.
“…In the end, everything went as that Shiokishi bastard planned.”
Accelerator said as if cursing.
“Anyone that wanted to know the truth of ‘Dragon’ has been eliminated. Guess the ones we captured at Hula Hoop are probably no longer in the same world as us.”
“You mentioned Sugitani earlier, right?”
Tsuchimikado leaned on the wall, and spoke as if he was deep in thought.
“Indeed, when he was talking to us earlier via video conferencing, he mentioned the names of two subordinates—Sugitani and Minobe—when they adjusted the camera.”
Musujime said tiredly while playing absentmindedly with her hair.
“In the end, just what exactly is this Dragon anyway?”
If that could be answered, none of us would need to work this hard. She probably subconsciously asked that.
Unabara glanced specifically at Tsuchimikado’s expression.
Seeing as Tsuchimikado, who was also a ‘magician’ like him, didn’t respond in any way he decided to cut into the conversation.
“…Different to your science side, if you want an opinion from someone like me from the magic side, the term ‘Dragon’ easily makes people think of religious metaphors. Such as… something like Angels.”
After hearing that, Accelerator involuntarily shuddered.
On that night where surrounding Last Order, Accelerator had fought with the Hound Dogs and Kihara Amata in a fight to the death, he had seen something similar to that. That was a flurry of wings made of light. Though there were still things he didn't understand about that incident, Accelerator had done some investigating and found out some things.
The emergence of those wings of light was connected to Kihara Amata and Last Order.
Also, the virus Kihara had used at the time was called ANGEL.
It didn’t matter if it was magic or the occult… Academy City wouldn’t just give up on them because of that.
Unabara’s opinion could still be mistaken, and for all they knew, all that had nothing to do with Dragon… but if ‘Angel’ and Dragon could be linked, then it wouldn’t be unconnected. That way, Last Order would be connected with Dragon, the most important secret of Academy City.
(…Just what has been hidden?)
Originally, Last Order and other Sisters were materials created for Accelerator’s ‘Experiment’. However, with the ending of the ‘Experiment’, these materials which were supposed to no longer be useful, now had a deep connection with the dark side of Academy City.
With that, it couldn’t help but to give people thoughts to overturn the basic premises their thoughts were based on.
In other words, were there more plots inside the ‘Level 6 Shift’ project?
If everything was just the results somebody had planned, then had that ‘Experiment’ been created to fail from the beginning?
(… Just what did me and that brat get dragged into while we weren’t noticing?)
Accelerator didn’t know what Spark Signal planned to do when they took over the private salon. It was just that the fact where just changing sides could get you closer to Dragon had been completely blocked out made him feel powerless and nauseated.
Unabara stated to speak,
“This series of events that started from Hula Hoop is now over, so should we now… leave?”
“Then what about Dragon?”
Accelerator had barbs in his words.
“You want to run away with your tails between your legs without any clues from all this?”
“… Then from what you are saying, we should sneak into Shiokishi’s stronghold?”
Tsuchimikado said exasperatedly.
“For Shiokishi who wears a powered suit 24 hours a day, his vigilance is the real deal. His stronghold is also on the same level of a nuclear shelter, it’s not easy to break through. … Because it was designed to handle scenarios where people like us rebel against them.”
Then, Accelerator wordlessly shifted his glance towards Musujime.
She could use Move Point, a method of moving that ignored the limits of three-dimensions.
But, Musujime just shrugged.
“This isn’t a problem about what method to use.”
“What do you mean?”
“No matter what method we use, attacking head on and charging right into a fortress of that level is impossible. In the end that guy is someone, where even in Academy City, there is only 12 of. Truth be told, if we don’t have the resolve to do a terrorist attack on the level of what happened at Hula Hoop, we can’t even start.”
“…On the same level, in other words if we can get an official member of the board of directors to become our ally, or to give him pressure politically, then we might be able to make him tell the truth.”
“But first we’d need that kind of ally to begin with,” Unabara added.
Accelerator, Tsuchimikado Motoharu, Musujime Awaki, and Unabara Mitsuki; all four of these people had someone that they needed to protect. Since that was the case, using terrorist attacks to forcibly find out the secret to Dragon was not the best plan.
The #1 of Academy City recalled that little girl, and while doing so his sight drifted to the window of the limo… then, he blankly muttered,
“…Guess we don’t have time to leisurely discuss anymore.”
For Tsuchimikado and others who hadn’t understood what those words meant, they looked together towards outside the window to see what Accelerator had seen.
Right after that,
The limo was hit by a portable anti-tank missile and turned into scrap metal along with the fiery explosion.
Of course, with only something like that Accelerator and others wouldn’t die.
The limo had several exits prepared. Tsuchimikado and Unabara jumped out using different exits, Musujime escaped using Move Point, and as for Accelerator he used his ability to forcibly rip apart the walls to escape out the side opposite of where the missile was coming from.
The four of them regrouping and then fighting off the new enemy——that didn’t happen.
They separately kept themselves alive and separately escaped. This was how Accelerator and others of Group did things.
(…That bastard Shiokishi. After that time, for us who know too much about Dragon, we became targets as well?)
He jumped into a smaller side street while appropriately approximating the reasons.
(…If that’s the case, the possibility of forming a strike team with the scenario that they know my ‘weakness’ is very high. Not aiming to kill me using the shortest and quickest method possible, but to just to use a drawn out method of battling that will drain the batteries of my electrode. Then if I just charge in I’ll only be toyed with and then die.)
In an instant, he remembered the driver of the limo, but Accelerator didn’t put too much thought into it. Before or after the explosion he hadn’t heard any screams. That driver had most likely been one of their people, and had run off before the attack.
(…Then again, there is no need to run away like an idiot. Ascertaining the identity of the enemy will be good. At least it would be better than not knowing who we are fighting. Finding out how the other side is deploying their forces, and then striking swiftly at the ‘blind spot’ that will lead to their destruction the quickest, will be alright.)
To accomplish that tactic it would be better to first confuse the enemy’s sight. Accelerator went around them, and planned to observe their deployment.
Accelerator’s electrode somehow had its capability taken away.
Losing the leg strength gained from manipulating vectors, Accelerator smashed brutally into the ground. This wasn’t a problem with the flesh only. Inside his brain… more specifically in the deepest part of his psyche, a slight sense of numbness filled everything.
It was just like being extremely drunk or still not quite awake after just getting up, his thoughts became fragmented and shattered, and lost connection to one another. Though he could understand he was lying on the ground, he could not plan to do anything about it.
Attacking Accelerator as he was curled up like a worm would be easy.
The switch for the electrode had been remotely controlled by someone else far away.
How he could still be affected even deep inside the alley meant it was probably a wide-area electromagnetic wave used for long distance controlling.
Accelerator’s ability was reliant on the electromagnetic network composed of nearly ten thousand military-use clones, so by shattering that network he could not use his ability.
If it was the usual Accelerator, he would have reached this conclusion immediately and then made a counter-strategy.
But now, even his brain for ‘making plans’ had been robbed from him.
On the ground and clenching his teeth, Accelerator looked in the direction of his right hand.
It was the specially-made crutch designed for situations like this.
Though it had things like motors and motion sensors attached onto it, in the end it could not maintain the movement faculty Accelerator had lost. For Accelerator who was lying on the ground, the most pressing problem was he couldn’t stand up even if he wanted to.
At this time, the sounds of footsteps came from the shadows of the alley.
He could somehow tell he was in danger, but specific thoughts like ‘what to do in this situation’ could not be recalled no matter what.
The sounds of footsteps came from the other direction as well, and there was the exit to this alley. Though enemies were coming in from all sides, Accelerator could not even think properly. His wrist was grabbed and then he was chucked into the seat next to the driver’s of a sports car. There was nothing he could do about it. The sports car started immediately, and swiftly moved onto the night road.
It was probably because the distance had increased between him and Shiokishi’s strike force, the long distance jamming electromagnetic waves were getting weaker. Accelerator was gradually recovering his senses. He turned the electrode back to the normal mode, and looked at the crutch that he had made. Then, he looked at the driver’s face.
He looked familiar.
He was the man that looked to be around the age of a high school student who had been dragged into the explosion at District 3. He should have gone with the injured pregnant woman to District 7…
“You must be surprised at the sudden events.”
The high school student lowered the speed of the sports car to the speed limit and said,
“However, once something happens my body will move by itself. Thanks to that I managed to let my life-saver… no, the person who saved something I care about more than my own life avoid death.”
The high school student’s face was smiling widely.
But Accelerator pulled out his gun from his pant’s pockets and unhesitatingly pointed it at the high school student.
“…In this piece of shit world at least a few things can be learned.”
He said disdainfully.
“You didn’t get there just in time to save me on a coincidence. No matter what, that was an attack plan made by Shiokishi, one of the board of directors; there’s no way someone familiar would be on scene.”
“You’re like me, another one of the residents of the dark side. Who put you up to this? Is this a double trap set up by Shiokishi?”
The high school student who had a gun pointed at him only stared straight ahead, not looking at Accelerator.
The tone of the high school student’s voice sounded like it was coming out of gritted teeth.
“I’m someone that has the same scent as you. But, our level is vastly different. My job is to support big-shots like you. Basically like those grunts you’d see a dime a dozen.”
"However," he continued to say,
“…No matter how filthy I am, it doesn’t change the fact you saved somebody that I value above my own life. And, I’m not that far gone to leave people like you for dead.”
“This isn’t something as simple as give and take. This is nothing on that level. This is a debt. Please let me repay that debt. If you don’t like that then you can go ahead and pull the trigger, it doesn’t matter.”
Accelerator stared at the high school student’s face for a short time.
He didn’t turn around even once.
He probably was sure that he wouldn’t be shot.
Accelerator scowled, and then moved the gun away from the high school student’s face.
“Where do you want to go?”
The high school student holding onto the driving wheel asked while smiling.
Accelerator answered offhandedly without giving much thought,
“I’m going to butcher that bastard Shiokishi.”
To completely seal all information on Dragon, Shiokishi of the board of directors had bared his fangs towards Accelerator and others. If Shiokishi found out his first wave of attack didn’t manage to get rid of his targets, he would probably attack ‘the most effective weak point’.
In other words, the hostage ‘Last Order’.
Accelerator estimated that the current situation was not severe enough to force Shiokishi to play that card. Otherwise he would have prepared hostages in the beginning, to limit Accelerator and others’ movements.
They had to finish this before Shiokishi moved onto his second plan.
Do they go on the attack or on the defense?
Immediately go back to Last Order and start a life on the run… though this choice was available, Accelerator thought this was not the best move. That was not an option. Because what he needed to protect was not just one girl, but the world that the girl loved. Yomikawa Aiho, Yoshikawa Kikyou; to protect everything around that girl while fighting, even for Accelerator that would be too difficult.
Then, what should he do?
Considering all this, Accelerator let off an extremely evil smile.
What needed to be done was simple.
Take down the enemy before he takes you down.
What was coming up next was a speed battle to see who could kill off the other team first.
(…mah, that’s everything.)
Ha, the #1 of Academy City couldn’t help but to laugh, and thought in the depth of his heart,
(…For a guy like me who’s covered in blood, this method is the most suitable one!!)
Kinuhata Saiai had a dull throbbing pain in her head.
Stephanie’s light machine shotgun was causing severe damage even through Kinuhata’s Offense Armor. Without that power, Kinuhata was just a frail girl (or so she insisted). If the bullets kept coming, she could easily receive a fatal injury.
(…Ow. Taking more than 7 shots in a row at a range of less than 5 meters would be super bad!!)
Kinuhata made a rough analysis from the damage she had taken.
She dived away from the large District 3 road and towards a slope leading underground.
Due to the terrorists, the underground mall seemed to be blocked off.
“Nya ha ha!”
Using both hands to carry a hunk of steel over a meter long, Stephanie laughed.
She spoke while holding that large weapon that looked out of place in that Japanese cityscape.
“Isn’t that escape route a little too straight for escaping bullets?”
The gunfire started without hesitation.
The mass of noise started sounding like one continuous noise rather than a shorter noise repeated at quick intervals.
Stephanie was aiming for Kinuhata from above the slope. That meant the ground should have made a thick barrier of asphalt and concrete between them.
Nevertheless, the rain of bullets continued after Kinuhata.
It was almost like a landslide.
The light machine shotgun had enough power to turn an armored vehicle into a sponge in 3 seconds. It took Kinuhata a few seconds to realize it was merely blowing straight through the artificial ground. And in that time, a large number of bullets struck her small frame.
She was slammed into the ground once and then bounced back up almost like a basketball. She balled up her body and rolled across the ground to avoid a concentrated attack. Because the concrete that made up the ceiling of the underground mall and the ground of the surface had been destroyed, a car parked on the street fell down.
Kinuhata did not hesitate.
She grabbed the car that was falling towards her head with one hand. The area around the door where her small palm touched it bent in making a horrible noise. Almost like when grabbing a cushion, a number of “wrinkles” raced along the metal car.
Kinuhata had grabbed that 500 kilogram mass but not so she could use it as a shield.
She was going to throw it as a weapon to crush Stephanie.
That was the exact same time Stephanie Gorgeouspalace stepped onto the remains of the destroyed concrete and headed down into the underground mall.
Her footing was unstable, so she was not in a situation where she could immediately jump to the side to avoid it.
And Kinuhata intended to throw it with all her strength so it would kill Stephanie.
(Super blow her away!!)
She twisted her upper body to gather strength and then swung the car around. She just had to let go to send an attack straight towards Stephanie that was on the level of the giant wrecking balls used to destroy houses.
A soldier or mercenary from outside the city could not stand up to an Academy City Level 4.
Or so Kinuhata had thought.
Stephanie’s light machine shotgun accurately shot the car’s gas tank.
It was just before Kinuhata was about to let go.
The back of the car transformed into what looked like a burst soda can and the large amount of liquid stored inside the tank exploded like a bomb.
A brilliant flash filled her vision.
Kinuhata’s body was knocked aside by the blast. The underground mall usually had limited light, but intense light and heat overflowed in the area and black smoke crawled up to the ceiling.
Her means of turning the fight around had been sealed by yet another counter attack.
But Kinuhata was not simply surprised by Stephanie’s cleverness and speed.
She was surprised by the foundation that supported it.
(She’s…used to this? She’s a super outsider, but she’s super well versed in the theory of how to fight against an esper like me…?)
Normally, that couldn’t be.
Even in Academy City where espers were a fact of life, not many people could handle a Level 4 like Kinuhata so easily. It was ridiculous to think there was someone from outside who could keep up with Kinuhata using only tactics and technology from outside.
“It couldn’t be…”
Having thought that far, Kinuhata unsteadily raised her head.
Carrying her light machine shotgun, Stephanie stepped down from the rubble into the underground mall.
“So you finally realized it. Before I became a mercenary, I was a civilian in a peaceful country. I decided to go help the people caught up in war because I felt guilty happily enjoying peace while others suffered and lived in fear of guns, bombs, and mines.” The blonde woman smiled as she pointed the barrel that was wrapped in heat towards Kinuhata. “Yes, I was originally from Academy City. The sniper Sunazara-san must have thought I was odd indeed to use Anti-Skill apprehension techniques to kill.”
That was why Stephanie Gorgeouspalace was well versed in how to kill an esper.
“I believe you use the nitrogen in the air to guard against my attacks.” She moved the barrel of her light machine shotgun away from Kinuhata to a completely different spot. “Then I’ll start by messing that up. Luckily, this underground mall seems to have plenty of delicious restaurants. …There sure are a lot of propane tanks, aren’t there?”
She pulled the trigger.
Accelerator took a ride in the high school student’s sports car, traveling on the road in the night. He had managed to contact Tsuchimikado using his cell phone, and like he thought the other members of Group were still on the run.
“Very good. Looks like you are the first one to escape the encirclement by Shiokishi’s strike force. You go on directly to District 21, there’s an observatory in the mountains.”
“Huh? You’re saying his stronghold is in the mountains?”
“That’s not it. If we want to strike at Shiokishi who is one of the official members of the board of directors, we need the necessary political preparations… it means, we need a backer that has the equivalent power of one of the Directors on the Board. The members of the Twelve Directors are all eccentric people to say the least. The only one who would help us is probably that person who is there at this time.”
"Kaizumi Tsugutoshi can also count as a good person, but the high school girl he has for an advisor—Kumokawa Seria——is too smart, so we can’t count on him," Tsuchimikado said helplessly.
“Come to think of it, who’s this person that can possibly help us?”
Tsuchimikado answered immediately.
“She’s the one that is holding a charity astronomy trip for the kids that were captured during the Hula Hoop incident… the number one good person in the board of directors. Though I don’t like to do this, she owes us. If we just ask her this one time in our lives, there’s possibly still room for negotiations.”
And with that, the sports car that Accelerator was in set its course towards District 21.
This district was the only mountainous region in all of Academy City. …Having said that, it was only relative to the other districts. The tallest mountain at the top was only 200 meters high. While this district was most well known for being the research center of water, plants and animals, at the same time it was also quite famous for its astronomy observatories.
Small antennas that were a meter in diameter and might have been radio telescopes were lined up on the slopes, with one after another some set distance apart. The car that Accelerator was in was moving along this road that deliberately did not have much artificial lighting. Tire tracks were everywhere on this incredibly twisting road. Maybe, there are unofficial races here on the weekends.
The observatory was half way up the mountain.
Pressing against the slope of the mountain was a flattened artificially leveled surface made of cement. As the sports car entered the parking lot, Accelerator saw a small bus. There was nobody on the bus. From the looks of it, the kids that had previously been captured by Spark Signal, were now enjoying their scheduled activity.
“You can leave now after letting me off here.”
Accelerator opened his door and said that while his crutch was holding onto the asphalt.
The high school student that was the impromptu driver hastily disagreed.
“W-wait. I’ve already said I want to repay my debt. Even a grunt like me can understand that you’ve been dragged into something troublesome. How can I just stop half way?”
“I haven’t done anything that’s that over-the-top. If I accept any more help from you I’d be the one owing you.”
Accelerator stood in the parking lot leaning on his crutch and said simply.
“… Plus, if you get in any deeper you might end up as a target as well. I don’t give a damn about a grunt like you, but if that pregnant woman that was finally saved became a hostage, I wouldn’t be able to sleep soundly.”
“If I really need help I’ll contact you. You go lie low and wait for the time being. Hiding pawns that can move freely is also an important tactic in survival. Let me use you that way.”
“Understood. Oi, let us exchange our cell phone numbers. If there’s any danger definitely contact me!”
The both of them operated their phones and using the infrared communication function to exchange numbers.
After that was done, the high school student reluctantly left the observatory with his sports car.
Accelerator sighed a small breath.
The number he had given him was just a randomly made-up fake number. His own cell phone had also rejected the number that the high school student sent to him.
With that, the connection between the two of them was completely gone. This was how Accelerator did things.
From the parking lot he looked up at the observatory’s large building.
One of the members on the board of directors—Oyafune Monaka was there. A VIP that could allow them to accomplish the operation to eliminate Shiokishi who was also one of the Directors.
The number one good person on the board of directors, in other words someone that was completely opposite to someone like Accelerator.
Though they had never communicated with each other, Oyafune owed Accelerator on two occasions.
One was what Tsuchimikado had just mentioned, how they had saved the kids at Hula Hoop.
Two, during the battle between the five organizations Group, Item, School, Block and Member, they had thwarted a plan to snipe Oyafune Monaka.
The devious Tsuchimikado was telling him to focus on those incidents and get her cooperation no matter what… But looking at Accelerator’s actions up to this point, it was easy to understand there was probably no other job that was more unsuitable for him.
(…Now this will be troublesome.)
Accelerator scratched his head and walked towards the observatory aided by his crutch.
Either way, if they couldn’t meet face to face they couldn’t continue with their plan. However…
“Please go back.”
As soon as I get here I run into difficulties, Accelerator thought.
Incidentally, the one that rejected him at the parking lot close to the observatory wasn’t Oyafune Monaka herself. It was a small man that looked like her secretary. The small man, whose ranking among the who-knew-how-many secretaries a Director needed was unknown, stood in front of Accelerator as if he was crazy. He stared at Accelerator as if to block off his path to Oyafune Monaka.
“Well, Director Oyafune in the past does indeed have her ways. Her specialty is negotiating without needing to use force to back it up. It has even been called ‘peaceful invasion’ by some people. She’s someone feared by all of the ambassadors from other countries.”
The small secretary waved his fists that had never punched someone, and continued on.
“But, she no longer does that anymore. She’s tired of the life which goes to and fro between Light and Darkness. You’re someone that looks at the peaceful world from the darkness’ viewpoint, can you not understand how difficult it is to throw all that away, and how important it is to treasure that? Or, have you fallen to the point that you can no longer understand those kinds of things?”
Che, Accelerator couldn’t help but scowl.
He was now extremely angry, but it was not directed at the small man’s attitude.
(…That bastard Tsuchimikado. What ‘The only person that can help us’? In the end it turned out to be the most troublesome outcome anyway. How dare you send me on an errand like one of those normal small-fries. If I don’t give you five rounds rapid the next time I see you I won’t be able to breathe right.)
Accelerator felt like his stomach was boiling right now, but he didn’t show it.
“Sorry to intrude.”
“…You’re, willing to give up?”
“Didn’t you want things to turn out this way? Or do you want to set up our forces to slaughter each other to our hearts’ content?”
“Even if that happens, it won’t change what I have to do.”
For the small secretary that finally realized the possibility it could have turned out that way, his face started to go blue. Looking at the secretary that wouldn’t move aside even if that happened, Accelerator asked,
“One last question. Just what happened to that Oyafune bastard?”
“…It’s her daughter.”
The small secretary answered straightforwardly.
“When the board of directors were setting up regulations to export weapons to the ‘outside’, Director Oyafune who is on the side against military exports gained the upper hand using her negotiation skills. Because she truly dislikes wars. At that time, Director Oyafune’s office received an envelope. Inside was a photo of her daughter and a large-caliber handgun that hadn’t been used before. …Though nothing has happened, I think it was probably Shiokishi of the pro-military-export faction’s actions.”
Accelerator’s brows creased. Though it was only for an instant, but they definitely had moved.
The small secretary had probably approved the ‘#1 of Academy City’ that he was trying to chase away. He shifted his gaze away from him and continued to say,
“From then on, Director Oyafune stepped down from negotiations. Live while not touching the darkness of this city, but limit their actions inside the darkness without them knowing by working on areas outside their attention… She has tried to live that kind of life as her goal. That kind of delicate balance is a golden ratio that only Oyafune Monaka, who’s an expert in ‘negotiations’ can create… If you people intervene this balance will crumble. Her daughter and ones around her will be targeted once more.”
So that’s it, Accelerator mumbled in a low voice.
As the small secretary turned away, Oyafune Monaka finally noticed their small argument. The old woman jogged towards Accelerator and the secretary. Though the look on the secretary’s face changed drastically, she didn’t seem to notice.
“And you… are?”
Oyafune looked at Accelerator with a strange expression. Accelerator had once saved her life from a sniper behind the scenes, but because it had been behind the scenes she did not know about him.
He didn’t want to especially show that incident off.
Tsuchimikado had told him to use that, but he felt from the bottom of his heart that if he was going to be that shameless, he was better off falling straight into hell.
“I’m just asking for directions.”
After saying what needed to be said, Accelerator turned away from Oyafune and her secretary.
This time, it was the small secretary that asked something,
“…Just what exactly has happened on your end? Those things that cannot be talked about above the table, I can guess what it is about somewhat. Even so, you came here. One last question, just what has happened to you?”
“What will it do even if you know about it?”
Accelerator answered as if he was bored.
“For something that’s already rejected, if you ask further it will only lead to more burdens. The troubles between me and that Shiokishi bastard are better off not being known by you.”
That short conversation made the secretary’s face change dramatically.
Ignoring the details the secretary could at least tell what had happened as a whole. The other side for some reason had to fight against one of the Directors, and they needed help from Oyafune who was also one of the Directors. Without her help they probably could not win against Shiokishi, and even if they did win they would be treated as terrorists.
He subconsciously moved his eyes off of Accelerator.
“That’s my problem. You don’t need to know about it.”
Accelerator said as if he was bored.
“If I had known this would happen I would have settled this myself. Though things would get troublesome, at least you people don’t have to deal with it.”
After the battle with Shiokishi, Accelerator would probably be treated as a terrorist.
He would lose all support and would no longer be able to live the life he had lived so far. He would never be able to see Last Order again. If there was a conflict of interest, he might even have Tsuchimikado Motoharu, Unabara Mitsuki and Musujime Awaki as his enemies.
But so what.
After all, weren’t all these what he had decided on? Even if he had to become the enemy with Last Order that he needed to protect, he would fight for protecting Last Order. If so, then there was only one thing left to do. Even if he didn’t especially bring Oyafune into this, the path he needed to take was right there in front of him.
“Sorry to intrude. Forget everything that I have just said. I’ll handle that bastard myself.”
Without waiting for an answer, this time Accelerator turned completely away.
At this time,
“What are you doing?”
A new voice brusquely entered his ears.
It was a voice coming from a boy who wasn’t even ten years old. It was a voice from one of the primary school students who was there for a charity observatory field trip. At the same time, this was the voice of the hostage that Accelerator had saved at Hula Hoop at the last second.
“You’re the hero from that time right? What are you doing here?”
“I heard what you were talking about before.”
Those words made Accelerator and the small secretary look towards the young boy. At this time, the boy walked towards them. Unhesitatingly, towards the monster who was the #1 of Academy City.
Because he had been saved by him before, the young boy was not on guard at all.
“Though I don’t know what has happened, but you are going to battle right? You’re going to save people like how I was back at that time, right?”
The young boy looked directly at Accelerator, and said,
“If that’s the case then I’m coming too.”
…What kind of ridiculous joke is this? Accelerator subconsciously face-palmed.
“Stop joking, you damn brat. Who, is going to battle alongside who?”
“Then, are you saying you are going to let those people die without going to help?”
Of these three people that were being pointed at, the one that was most shocked was Oyafune Monaka.
The small secretary had an idea what would happen, and was gritting his teeth behind their view.
“I know, you won’t go fight for insignificant things. I also know you are going somewhere incredibly dangerous. I know there are more people like me who are in trouble, so I want to fight with you.”
He completely didn’t understand what was going on, but still talked that way.
Looking at their battle capabilities was enough to immediately understand this was such a laughable and unrealistic opinion.
Even so, Accelerator didn’t ignore all that and just turn to leave. Though it was looking down from above to the other side, he was replying seriously to answer his serious question.
“…It won’t be necessary.”
“Wasn’t I by myself back at Hula Hoop? That time, with those boring terrorists, did you see if they were a threat to me?”
“I was blindfolded so I don’t know.”
“Is that so. Then I’ll tell you now: there was no threat. This time is the same.”
That was not the case.
Not just Accelerator who was at the pinnacle of the world of darkness, even Oyafune Monaka and the small man who was her secretary understand.
Accelerator was indeed powerful.
But, he was able to use his power fully in the darkness because of those from up to the board of directors, and down to various departments and facilities providing assistance to him. Losing all that and even turning them into his enemies, turning the entire military force of Academy City into his enemies had an unrivaled great danger.
This was no longer just Accelerator’s problem.
This was a problem that would affect everyone that he wanted to protect.
The switch on his electrode would be remotely controlled, his enemy would turn off his ability whenever they wanted. Just like the battle with Kihara Amata and the Hound Dogs, a struggle where he had to battle in a chaotic situation was unavoidable.
“I’m the Strongest Level 5, I don’t need brats worrying about me.”
Accelerator didn’t mention any of those things.
There was no reason to let the young boy know any of those things.
To make sure the young boy didn’t get dragged further into the darkness, without giving any hints the danger he would be facing, Accelerator said,
“Listen up. Even if there are people being hurt in front of you, those who take up weapons unhesitatingly to take down the bad guys are villains that are no better than them. Not considering other’s thoughts, not giving them a chance to change their ways, the one that kills for their own reasons is definitely not a good person. You don’t need to become someone like that. That’s my specialty. Only I have to do something like that.”
This kind of courage and insight, probably only the person that knew everything that had happened so far could understand.
Oyafune Monaka and her small secretary probably could only understand a small portion of it.
“I’m enough by myself, people like you don’t need to show up.”
“…I don’t want to.”
Faced with the words that wanted to kill off any kindness, the young boy tried talk back in a small voice,
“I can fight as well.”
Lifting his head and looking at the strongest Level 5 of Academy City, the young boy yelled with all his strength,
“I don’t want to hand Academy City to those despicable people!”
Maybe it was because they had finally noticed the commotion.
Oyafune’s other secretaries, or maybe private security forces… either way, several men came over and placed their hands on the young boy’s shoulders. Though their actions were kind, in reality it was to force the boy to step away from Oyafune. Though his body was being forced, the young boy’s eyes never left Accelerator. Until the teacher finally arrived, until that last moment, he stared at Accelerator’s face.
Accelerator looked in the direction where the boy was being taken back to his classmates and back to the field trip long after he left.
The ones who did so was not just him.
As one of the official members of the board of directors of Academy City, Oyafune Monaka was the same. She too looked over in that direction.
“…You mentioned Shiokishi earlier right?”
The small man who was a secretary tried to interject, but Oyafune kept staring at Accelerator’s face.
Oyafune Monaka, from that incident with her daughter, knew just how frightening Shiokishi was in politics.
And, she also knew just how dangerous it would be for Accelerator who was going to fight one of the official members of the board of directors.
On the other hand, Accelerator actually replied her using a tone of rejection,
“You don’t need to worry about it.”
“From how this looks… Just like how that boy said, you plan to fight.”
At this point, Oyafune sighed a small sigh.
She was probably recalling the words that boy had spoken at the end.
—don’t want to hand Academy City to those despicable people.
Though the boy could not imagine the specific looks of the enemy, but the so-called ‘despicable people’ was probably the vaguest impression for the darkness that lurked in this city.
But, it was because of that, that Oyafune Monaka thought,
Though she knew about the darkness in this city, she had given up on fighting it; was she one of those ‘despicable people’ that the boy was talking about?
Oyafune Monaka, an old woman that didn’t use force and only used her negotiation skills who challenged the world with her rule of not shedding blood; when she heard the term ‘despicable people’ she could not hold her chest high and argue against that term.
“…What, should I do?”
“Hell if I know.”
Faced with Oyafune who was talking to herself, Accelerator scowled while replying in a bored manner,
“It’s your life, your choice.”
At these words that sounded like a reproach, Oyafune couldn’t help but to laugh.
To be able to say that straight away was probably because Accelerator had lived his life that way.
And, now it was the same; to protect something.
Oyafune Monaka placed her hand on something nearby.
It was the black bulletproof car that Oyafune rode in.
She placed her right hand first on the top of the limo, and then her left hand. With that, as she was currently parallel to her vehicle,
She slammed her own fists hard onto the bulletproof car.
Director Oyafune! The small secretary cried out.
But, Oyafune Monaka herself didn’t care. So long, it had been so long. Oyafune Monaka retrieved with her own hands the feeling when something was hurt. The negative emotions inside of her seem to have been swept away. With that expression, she turned once more to look at Accelerator’s face.
“…I’ve finally awakened.”
“Stop talking nonsense. I’ve decided to do this myself.”
“It’s my life, my choice.”
Facing Accelerator who was ascertaining the situation, Oyafune immediately replied.
“When I received the photo of my daughter and that large-caliber handgun, I thought dulling my edge was the best way to protect those that I care about.”
“But, why didn’t I think this way? My daughter was targeted because I was being looked down on by others. If I do not destroy the source of this evil, no matter how much time passes, the ones important to me won’t be able to escape from danger.”
Oyafune Monaka stood in front of Academy City’s strongest Level 5.
At this time, the standing between the two of them was finally equal.
On a different dimension to common grunts who relied on strength alone, at the core of their hearts, the two of them stood on equal positions.
Accelerator had seen people with that look in their eyes before.
Anti-Skill member Yomikawa Aiho, and ex-researcher Yoshikawa Kikyou.
“Let us go to Shiokishi’s place. That’s the best plan. His stronghold, regardless of it being physically or politically attacked, is rock solid. But if someone like me who also has the power of a member of the board of directors joins the fighting, the latter problem can be solved.”
“Che,” Accelerator scowled.
But, the small secretary could not just let it go.
“Director Oyafune!! But, this method…!!”
“This is something that I have decided myself. Even if he left, I would fight Shiokishi alone. If that’s the case, wouldn’t the best method be to work together?”
At this time, the small man who was a secretary that had felt the strength of her will glared viciously at Accelerator. He had just said something like he wouldn’t drag Oyafune into all of this.
“He only told me to ‘make my own choice’. He didn’t demand anything. I have only just decided on my own path. There is no reason to blame him. He already gave me consideration to the largest extent.”
The small secretary let out cursing that he would never normally use. Then, he opened the door to the black bulletproof car, rummaged around the glovebox, and brought out a gun.
It wasn’t something he brought out to point at Accelerator or Oyafune Monaka.
Quite the opposite.
“For someone as outstanding as Director Monaka she cannot possibly be allowed to die for something as boring as this. For someone like her, she should use her skills in a broader territory, as she has the potential to make a lot more people happy.”
While he checked the bullets in the gun with a skill that made it obvious he was not familiar with it, the secretary glared at Accelerator.
“Oi. If you are here asking for cooperation then do the minimum of your duty! Protect her with all your might! If you let Director Monaka die I’ll turn you into a beehive with bullets!”
“That’s rather impressive of you. You’re suited to become a villain.”
“Please don’t say scary things like that with a praising tone.”
In their exchange of words, Accelerator, Oyafune Monaka and the small secretary got into the black bulletproof limo.
The destination this time was the dark side of the board of directors—Shiokishi’s stronghold.
Taking the history’s strongest villain with her, the board of directors’ negotiator—Oyafune Monaka, was making her comeback!
It seemed something had happened to Kinuhata Saiai.
That was what Hamazura and Takitsubo finally realized after the terrorist attack was over and they had snuck out of the private salon building while Anti-Skill was investigating.
“…I have an email from Kinuhata on my phone.”
Takitsubo had shown Hamazura the email on the screen of her cutely designed cell phone. It said, “I’m going to help you escape, so stay where you are for a bit.” It had been some time since the email had been sent, but they had seen no sign of any action taken by Kinuhata.
In the end, the two of them had escaped the private salon building on their own.
“Hey, have you contacted her yet? I hope she didn’t go in there and we missed her.”
“I’ve been calling Kinuhata, but I can’t get through.”
Takitsubo was staring at her phone with a vacant look in her eyes.
Hamazura couldn’t be sure if it was due to the lingering effects of the Body Crystal or if that was just how she always was because she had already been using Body Crystal when he had first met her.
“Hamazura, what do we do now?”
“Well, Kinuhata is a Level 4 and she’s tougher than both of us. She did send us that email, so it might be best to stay put and wait for her to contact us. It would take something really insane to kill someone like—”
Hamazura trailed off because an area of District 3 suddenly exploded.
It wasn’t a building that was blown away. It came from underground. The ground a distance away suddenly split open and crimson flames spewed up from beneath.
It wasn’t just one explosion.
As more explosions followed, more and more flames came up from within the earth. The asphalt was ripped apart and cars parked on the street were swallowed up. Luckily, very few people were around due to the terrorists at the private salon, so it didn’t look like any people were swallowed up.
To Hamazura, it somehow looked like the explosions were slowly approaching them.
His trembling lips moved as he watched it.
“Oh, come on!! Why does something ‘really insane’ have to happen now!?”
He had no proof that Kinuhata was involved with those explosions, but it was likely that something like that involved the people from the city’s darkness that Hamazura and Takitsubo had once been part of.
“And what’s exploding anyway?”
“Hamazura, it might be the underground mall.”
Takitsubo pointed over towards a large crowd coming from a department store. They seemed to be frantically trying to flee due to the black smoke coming up from underground.
Hamazura looked around and found the entrance to the underground mall that was connected with the ticket gate for the subway. He headed down the stairs that was spewing black smoke like a smokestack and he found an orange light down blow.
It was like the fires of hell.
The area Hamazura was in had not been enveloped by flames yet, but the blazing orange light from further in was being reflected off the tile floor and ceiling as well as the glass walls making a thick barrier of light. The air itself was unusually hot, so it felt like he was inside a giant oven.
He didn’t know exactly what had happened and he had no proof that Kinuhata was there.
That storm of flames was much too dangerous to enter in order to search for someone who might not even be in there. However, it would all be for naught if he became surrounded by flames before he even decided what to do.
(What do I do? Do I go on or head back…?)
“Hamazura, over there!!”
Takitsubo pointed towards something on the other side of the orange flames. It was a human form. The small figure was stuck where it was due to a wall of flames blocking its path.
Seeing that, Hamazura shouted the figure’s name.
Hearing that, Kinuhata looked over towards Hamazura in shock. She was not relieved upon seeing his face and yelled back looking even tenser than before.
“You need to super get down!! Just getting behind cover isn’t enough!!”
As soon as he heard that, Hamazura noticed a much taller figure beyond the flames along with Kinuhata.
That figure held something long and narrow. It looked something like a machine gun and the figure was turning it in his direction.
Hamazura jumped over at Takitsubo knocking her to the floor. The heated tiles burned them, but that was the least of their worries.
A large number of bullets flew from the other side of the flames.
They cut across a horizontal line at about the height of a human waist. And it seemed the bullets were not normal rifle bullets. They didn’t just tear through the glass walls; they tore through the concrete pillars near the stairs, too.
“Nya ha ha!”
After a few seconds, the gunfire stopped.
That storm of destruction had not actually been meant to kill Hamazura and Kinuhata. The tall figure’s target was probably Kinuhata. The tall figure—most likely a woman—aimed the large gun at Kinuhata and spoke.
“You use nitrogen to create a barrier, so I thought I could seal that by doing something about the air. Getting rid of nitrogen is rather difficult though because it makes up 70% of the air.”
(Did she do this…?)
Lying on the floor, Hamazura tried to collect as much information as he could. She may have used the propane gas at the surrounding restaurants to turn the underground mall into the sea of flames it currently was.
The way she held the gun reminded him a bit of the Anti-Skill members he had seen in his more delinquent days.
However, Anti-Skill fought to protect the children so they would not go that far to fight an esper.
(Is she part of the city’s darkness like us? That giant gun is clearly different from the more easily hidden submachine guns the terrorists used…)
The enemy knew what Kinuhata’s power was and she was trying to take advantage of a weakness in it.
Hamazura pulled out his small handgun.
It was easy to carry around, but its small size meant it had poor accuracy at longer ranges. To make sure he hit, he needed to be no more than 30 meters away.
(Her machine gun is clearly the better gun. If she notices me trying to shoot, she’ll send a stream of bullets this way truly intending to kill me. What should I do? How do I get closer without her noticing?)
The woman did not wait for him to think it all out.
“But if an explosion is triggered with certain requirements met, it can create vacuum-like circumstances for an instant. Of course, it’s an exceedingly local phenomenon. It’s only a hole a few dozen centimeters across.”
“!? Hamazura, super get away!!”
“If I fire a bullet through that hole, you won’t be able to use that shield of yours, will you?”
Multiple explosions occurred at the same time.
They seemed to be surrounding Kinuhata’s small frame. The overwhelming flash of light filled Hamazura’s vision and the shockwave headed towards him and Takitsubo like it was moving through a tube.
Hamazura immediately covered Takitsubo’s mouth and nose with his hands and clenched his own eyes shut. Breathing in that wave of heat would destroy one’s throat and organs.
After the scorching wind passed by, Hamazura finally opened his eyes.
Beyond the flames, the tall figure was pointing its machine gun at Kinuhata.
According to the enemy, Kinuhata Saiai could not surround herself with her shield in a local vacuum. If a bullet were shot through that hole, it would tear through her defenseless body.
No response came.
All he heard was the dreadful repeated sound of gunfire coming from the tall figure’s machine gun.
Accelerator and others met up once again.
The location was District 2. It was a district filled with facilities that were linked with things that made a huge amount of noise, such as cars and explosives. This district was surrounded by a soundproof wall, and had equipment which fired out specially tuned sound waves that caused destructive interference and lowered ambient noise.
“It’s probably a trait of this district, there’s not many people here… there is a lot of military-related facilities though. For Shiokishi who’s good at designing weapons this sure looks like his home.”
Tsuchimikado said in a half-mocking voice.
They were at a fuel station which also doubled as a fastfood stop. It felt just like a service area on the highways.
“So we’ve found the stronghold of this Shiokishi guy?”
“According to Oyafune, he’s in one of the experimental shelters inside this district.”
Accelerator said while cursing.
“This district uses explosives a lot right? That’s because they make models of shelters here, and then bombard it using shock waves from all directions to test its durability. Shiokishi hides his strongest fortress in the background with all the rest of them as cover.”
Tsuchimikado turned around and found an old lady responding to him with a smile. Except now her clothes were that of a suit.
She felt Tsuchimikado’s gaze on her and briefly explained,
“Hm. The preparations are complete.”
“That secretary did say he’d wait at a ‘safe place’ right?”
Tsuchimikado said while shrugging.
Accelerator on the other hand looked at Oyafune and said,
“That secretary actually agreed to this.”
“Mah~ he just didn’t want to do anything risky.”
Whether this counted as an answer or not, Oyafune only replied ambiguously.
Tsuchimikado clapped twice.
“We have everything we need now, so let’s settle this quickly. We’re not people that are the kind who talk face to face about everyday things.”
On the other side was Shiokishi, one of the 12 members of the board of directors for Academy City, and his face was tightly wound up.
The space inside of the tunnel-like structure made of special armor may have been spacious, but the furnishings were quite plain. As a whole, it felt like being inside a warship or an aircraft carrier. Only from various places like the luxurious cabinets and chairs could anyone find the tastes of the one who lived there.
For Shiokishi, ‘safety’ was the greatest luxury, and this was the result of his massive efforts and large amounts of money. In reality, the costs of setting up this aggregation of military secrets was much greater than what would be needed to purchase a European medieval castle.
The ‘safety’ that this tycoon favored to the extreme was being shaken right to its foundations.
“…We are both members of the board of directors, so it’s necessary to implement the observation system between those with the same powers…”
Between the twelve of them, they did have that kind of agreement.
Among the official members of the board of directors, they needed to have equal power between them at all times. To prevent one of them standing out and disrupting the balance of power, the committee needed to look at the opinions of any of the twelve Directors equally. For Academy City to work democratically, this was a necessary setup… this was the widely known, agreed, and discussed goal.
Of course, all that was merely superficial acting.
These twelve people had all built up strength in areas they were most proficient in, looking for opportunities to take down their rivals, and make Academy City work to the direction most beneficial for themselves; even if it was for just one tiny bit.
For someone to actually use this setup that was merely for decoration purposes, it should have been impossible.
(…Can this be somehow brushed off?)
Shiokishi considered. Normally speaking, just handling something like this perfunctorily would be enough.
But that wouldn’t work this time.
Once again he sought out confirmation using the network for Directors’ use only, and found between the twelve members there were indeed many agreements that didn’t have much impact. Though any one of these agreements didn’t have any great powers in themselves, amazingly every one of them was linked to the observation system between members that had equal powers. If he tried to seal one, another would get in the way. Trying to completely do away with another would also lead to conflict with other agreements. The persistent feeling was like someone had spent countless years weaving a spider net and finally herded their target into a dead end.
“That vixen… I had thought this was no more than a tiresome peace agreement after she had lost her power, but she had actually planned this from the start!”
Thinking about this kind of persistence, and the fact he didn’t even see through this trap until this day it activated, Shiokishi felt afraid. All this time he was supposed to have been the one that was putting Oyafune Monaka under his surveillance.
“Please decide on the course of action.”
The assassin he had raised with his own hands, who was currently standing by next to him - Sugitani said directly.
“This shelter has political and physical functions to prevent a third party invading, but because Oyafune Monaka has invoked the observation system between members that have equal powers the political defense functions are now useless. Also…”
“If the information from the cameras are accurate, Oyafune now has Group that’s led by Accelerator as her pawns, or a relationship like a battle alliance. Even if we deny her inspection and defend ourselves inside this shelter it can’t be called ‘safe’. …No matter how well prepared we are, if I am assassinated then everything is over. As they are right now, even if they are classed as having combat value above that of nuclear warheads it wouldn’t be too much of an exaggeration.”
Shiokishi, who was completely covered in the powered suit, was wringing his hands as if on the verge of going into hysterics. In contrast to him, Sugitani standing at the side seemed as unruffled as usual.
“…However, would they really use the forceful method? Even if they have the excuse of ‘the inspection was denied’ and can legitimately attack us, if they really attack us it will lead to a war between the members of the board of directors.”
“…They will definitely attack.”
Shiokishi said as he paced around the room, lifting his feet that were covered in Western-esque armor.
“Because this is about Dragon, even if there’s a slight trace about it they will come.”
“Not taking into account those four of Group, Oyafune Monaka probably doesn’t have that kind of thoughts.”
“On the subject of motivation, that woman is the most troublesome. Don’t be fooled by how meek she is now, the Oyafune Monaka of the past was someone that would go head on against a country just because of a child she didn’t know personally cried. No matter what kind of political techniques were used it could not stop her. If she has started to move now then we can only fight back using force.”
“Take control of her daughter Oyafune Suama?”
“That might work against Oyafune but it would be useless against Group. Is this the time to waste resources on unnecessary things?”
Maybe because he had already ran through this scenario in his head countless times, Shiokishi immediately said,
“Split up our forces to take hostages, what will happen if the shelter was taken while that happens? Even if the hostage is finally captured, there’s no meaning if I have a knife pressed to my neck as well while we are at it. That cannot possibly be the basis of ‘safety’.”
…as long as the enemy’s important thing was under his control, even if there was a gun pointed at his head there should still be room for negotiations… that was something out of the question for Shiokishi. Even as a joke, he would never risk his life in the battle plans.
With that, Shiokishi finally decided.
“We’ll take them on here.”
Sugitani didn’t raise any objections. He only followed orders.
Knowing that his attitude was for giving him a sense of security, Shiokishi steadied his tone and continued,
“This is the final battle. Assemble all the forces sent out to attack Group and the ones sent to take the hostage back here. Let the forces inside the shelter withstand Group’s attack at first, and then let the others come from outside and surround Group. Flank them and then destroy them.”
“And about the issue where Oyafune has the right to attack?”
“We can’t just shrug them off. Get the information analyzing department to completely go through their request documents. Even saying something like ‘the seal is blurred’ is alright, as long as the organization cannot process their documents and reasons it would be our victory.”
Shiokishi who was completely covered by the thick powered suit swiftly thought.
His brain worked the fastest whenever ‘safety’ was involved.
“The ‘reasons for action’ always have their own interests involved. Putting aside those ‘righteousness’ that is merely a sham for those up to no good, all that is left is using force to settle everything. Then, as long as we win, convincing the other members of the board of directors will be easier. …Up to now we’ve managed to win using this method, and we will continue to do so from now on.”
“Let us begin. No matter what, if I don't take down Oyafune Monaka and Group, I won’t be able to rest properly.”
At one corner of another similar circular shelter, Accelerator and the rest of them that got to this point stopped in their path.
Behind the parked vehicles, around the corner of buildings, under the eaves of factories.
In this view which looked plain at first glance, professional armed forces wearing special bullet-proof clothes and wielding rifles and submachine guns were hidden.
They were Shiokishi’s underlings.
Accelerator and the rest of them stopped to give them a sign.
They were not giving up, they were not surrendering.
Rather, it was a declaration they would fight to the end.
Powered suits almost 7m tall jumped down from buildings one by one. They instantly started to set up armored vehicles and barricades. On top of the suits and armored vehicles were cannons like those of tanks.
Tsuchimikado couldn’t help but laugh.
“Shiokishi is part of the military faction, alright. Even the weapons he gives to his underlings are this over-the-top.”
“…What do you people think? Since it’s one of the Directors, they should know normal battle forces won’t work against Accelerator.”
“Haven’t you noticed?”
Accelerator who was holding a crutch pointed up with his chin. At the top of the circular shelter that Shiokishi was trying to hold, was a metal sphere like a basketball that was just like an omnidirectional radar.
“That’s a device used to disrupt AIM diffusion fields. The main body is probably part of the dome. At the Youth Correction Center of this city, isn’t there AIM disruption devices to prevent people using their ability to escape? The one above us is the board of directors’ special edition, and the setting right now is probably most targeted at you. For a shelter that can withstand nuclear attacks, the ones they are most afraid of are those with the ‘Teleport’ type ability that can ignore 3-dimensional defenses.”
Having heard that, Musujime took out her military-use flashlight from her belt and waved it around a few times in her hand. She then furrowed her brows.
“…Though my ability can still work, it feels like it’s been forcefully redirected. Even if we teleport we’ll probably be buried underground.”
“As a member of the board of directors, and also as a weapons specialist, he should understand my military value. Then he should know the underlings of that standard cannot possibly take me down.”
Accelerator said with a bored voice disdainfully.
“But, if they got a sample of my AIM diffusion field from previous battles, they could reverse calculate from the data and then send out disruptive electrical waves. With the progress from the data analysis they could at least force our abilities to go berserk and take me and Musujime down. That’s the plan of those bastards.”
“Then what do we do?”
Oyafune Monaka’s expression seemed slightly tense, and she asked with a voice that should be far removed from battle.
“Isn’t that obvious?”
In contrast, Accelerator twisted his neck and made some cracking sounds. He placed his hands on his neck.
There was the switch for the electrode on his neck.
“We’ll break through head on.”
As one of the official members of the board of directors, Shiokishi was well-known for being well-protected. That was apparent from the fact that he covered himself in a powered suit almost 24 hours a day. Of course, his stronghold was also quite robust. Mixed in with other buildings in District 2, the tunnel style building was 200m in diameter and was said to be able to withstand even tactical weapons.
It was just that,
“That level of strength is still not enough.”
Accelerator’s low voice was carried off by the winds.
“When facing a place that boasts to be able to withstand even nuclear strikes, you’ll have to use something like this.”
Boom!! An explosion rang out.
The front half of the tunnel had one third of it smashed apart, and debris flew through the air.
What Accelerator had done was very simple. He picked up a parked car close to him with one hand, and then threw it hard at the target. There was nothing special about the laws of physics involved, and the items used weren’t any kind of special materials. But, with just ‘controlling all vectors’ added into the mix, a simple throw could bring the results of shattering the shelter.
The person in question muttered that one phrase in a bored tone, and turned his electrode off. To conserve the batteries as much as possible, the Level 5 could only stumble forward using his crutch as support. But nobody could stop him. The gigantic shock wave from when the shelter had destroyed the joints of the powered suits, flipped over the tanks, and robbed the soldiers of their consciousness.
Accelerator walked over the broken walls and walked inside the facility.
“Shiokishi’s forces will take another 10 to 20 minutes before they can get back up. We’ll use this time to take control of Shiokishi and force him to surrender.”
“How troublesome. If you can shoot that move repeatedly why don’t you just squash him from afar?”
Musujime asked him using the same bored tone, but Accelerator replied with a scowl.
“Even if I squash him that will be after we get the information about Dragon out of him.”
Oyafune who was with them looked back repeatedly.
“Tsuchimikado-san has disappeared.”
“That guy is outside holding off the enemies. We can’t be sure if they are all immobilized, or that if there will be pursuers.”
“Since me and Accelerator have some trouble due to our AIM diffusion field being diagnosed, that guy with glasses doesn’t rely on his ability so there is no problems.”
Though Oyafune had an expression that asked if he would be alright by himself, neither Accelerator or Musujime cared. If he died, then anything to do with him would end right there. Their Group was a group that banded together based on strength. Only by shutting up and showing your worth were you counted as part of Group.
Accelerator’s blow had made the tunnels messy. In this tunnel that looked like an omelet being randomly taken apart by a fork, Accelerator and others forged ahead. They ignored the concept of ‘normal’ routes. They moved between the destroyed, collapsed, and forcibly ripped apart walls and moved deeper and deeper inside.
On their way they occasionally saw men who looked like Shiokishi’s private forces lying down on the floor. They had probably been knocked unconscious by the shock wave from Accelerator’s previous attack.
“Now it’s really the ‘observation’ we were talking about earlier. Talking directly with Shiokishi is Oyafune’s job, we’re just here as her bodyguards.”
“Even though we’re the ones that broke everything from the base to here, ultimately she is the one that has to step up on the battlefield.”
As Musujime said that, an unforeseen event happened.
Suddenly, a barricade descended like a guillotine, separating Oyafune Monaka from Accelerator and Musujime Awaki, and perfectly sealing the path.
Her ability was to move others freely, ignoring the limits of 3-dimensions. But, Musujime looked at the barricade and shook her head.
“There’s no response. Something has happened on the other side of the barricade, Oyafune’s no longer there.”
“Che. You’re useless.”
Just as Accelerator was reaching for the electrode at his neck, a new sound of footsteps rang out.
“Let us spar with one another.”
The one who spoke was a man in a suit. Accelerator had seen him before. He was the private mercenary working for Shiokishi that used a large caliber handgun and had killed every last member of Spark Signal back at the District 3 private salon. His name should be Sugitani.
Sugitani took out a packet of cigarettes from a pocket in his suit and used his mouth to take out one from the packet.
“I remember I prayed that we wouldn’t see each other on the battlefield once more.”
“You’re the one that’s picking a fight here.”
“I’ve said before the one that should work to prevent this from happening is you.”
To light up his cigarette Sugitani, returned the packet of cigarettes back into his suit, and took out a lighter that even with a glance it was apparent it was a cheap item. It was a lighter made of clear plastic even sold in corner stores, and didn’t match his attire or the current atmosphere.
“Do you know about Dragon?”
Sugitani replied as he brought the lighter up to light the cigarette.
At least, that was how it appeared to Accelerator.
However, right after that was a small *pu* sound, like something had been shot out.
At the same time Sugitani’s lighter made that sound, Musujime Awaki collapsed onto the floor next to Accelerator as if something had hit her. There wasn’t even a scream. Because of that inexplicable hit Musujime had completely lost consciousness.
(So what’s inside that isn’t gas used for lighters…)
Chances were some kind of high pressure gas was used inside the lighter, and it had been released all at once to shoot a small anesthetic bullet. Sugitani, who had successfully completely a sneak attack head on, spat out the cigarette used for the act onto the ground and said to Accelerator,
“The basis for modern warfare isn’t fight with all you have head on, but to decide victory or defeat before then.”
“This is Shiokishi’s order. Compared to Accelerator who only has massive destructive power, Musujime can go through any walls and has a higher priority to be taken down first.”
“Who are you?”
“Koga. One of Koga’s descendants.”
Sugitani said in a self-mocking tone.
“That’s an organization of contemptible people who did things like this under the name of justice since ages past.”
As he said that he took out a large caliber handgun.
But, that probably wasn’t the real killing move. Considering how he had fought so far, he probably wouldn’t use something this simple.
Or, it was because there were other tricks he was going to shoot from head-on.
He was the kind of enemy that used chained plots.
Facing Accelerator who was trying not to leave himself open by observing his enemy closely, Sugitani spoke,
That one sentence made Accelerator frown involuntarily.
“Those two old folks from the board of directors have already met face to face, and Shiokishi is wearing a specially made powered suit. The strength of that armor isn’t something that can be handled by any weapon Oyafune is hiding in her clothing. That old woman will be ripped apart by a power greater than construction-use machinery and then die.”
“I don’t think Shiokishi would allow his own life be included in the plan.”
“That’s just something I wanted to do. Also, Shiokishi is probably shocked right now, but he should be able to do what he has to. I don’t think a man wearing a powered suit will lose to an old woman.”
Sugitani wasn’t showing off his victory, he was just stating the facts.
“Only by eliminating Oyafune can any political opposition be eliminated. Then you people will be chased out of here using the entire might of Academy City; then through proper channels we’ll control ‘trump cards’ like Last Order and the battle will be over.”
Two people from the highest governing body of Academy City—the board of directors—were currently facing each other.
Between them was a table.
Though some points should have be taken off because there was no tea or biscuits on the table, at least the atmosphere of an upper-class conversation was established. Thanks to Accelerator’s attack earlier, the walls were cracked and the starry sky seen through the cracks could at least count as some kind of decoration.
Oyafune and Shiokishi.
These two old people who were closely involved in many things in history were currently wearing warm smiles.
“Mm. What I want is very simple. It’s not money; it’s not power; it’s not even your life.”
The one that lit up the fuse first was Oyafune.
“From now on, I wish for you to completely delete the clause of ‘using others’ lives as a resource’ from all the plans you are supervising and the ones you propose, and also in your battles. It’s not much, right? Apart from you, everyone else is following this principle.”
Indeed, what she was suggesting did sound easy at first.
But, Oyafune Monaka was likely to make Shiokishi ‘completely’ implement those words. Just signing something like a verbal agreement along the lines of ‘understood, I’ll agree to not do that anymore’ would not be enough. If Shiokishi did not disband his personal forces under his command, and on that basis forfeit all other rights and powers to do with commanding armed forces, Oyafune would not let it end.
That way would mean taking everything that Shiokishi had away from him.
As if declaring everything that made him great would be taken away from him and make him a cripple.
“Also, let’s talk about Dragon.”
“Is that something necessary for you to ask about it?”
“Rather than me, it’s my allies Group who requested me to ask about it.”
Shiokishi went silent for a moment. Then, through his powered suit’s helmet, he looked at Oyafune sitting in front of him and asked,
“Oyafune-kun, how much do you know about Dragon?”
“Nothing whatsoever. If my power was authorizing documents I might have chances to come in contact with some kind of information. But, I don’t have that kind of power. You should know that as well.”
“It’s something that cannot be brought into the light.”
Shiokishi didn’t care about being disagreed with, he only said in a small voice,
“All I am doing now is completing one very important thing for protecting Academy City. Dragon is a word that has that kind of danger. You called me barbaric, but that is because you don’t know about Dragon. Also, I don’t plan on letting you know.”
Oyafune didn’t change her soft smile, and replied immediately,
“If necessary, I will also take action that could be called barbaric. If it can contribute to saving important people from your actions I will continue to investigate Dragon.”
“Then this negotiation has broken down.”
“I think, the Academy City that we both want to protect probably means different things to the two of us. That’s why our paths have diverged.”
“Is that so.”
Shiokishi sighed a small sigh behind the helmet.
Right after that, Shiokishi punched an iron fist made from a special alloy with all the power of the powered suit towards Oyafune.
The powered suit that Shiokishi was wearing was a special version above even the military-use models in Academy City. Instead of focusing on flexibility and the weapon’s coordination, this suit’s design focused more on durability and defense as its core. This also showed just how strong the fist that was reaching for Oyafune really was.
Even building machineries could not be compared to this.
The old woman would undoubtedly be turned to dust with this blow.
“…Have you never considered?”
Not only did Oyafune Monaka’s body not get turned into paste, there wasn’t even a scratch on her.
She neither caught Shiokishi’s fist or made any move to dodge. The iron fist of the powered suit abruptly stopped in midair. The armor seemed like it had suddenly lost the ability to move, and turned into a heavy metal statue.
“Just like how you wrapped yourself up with a powered suit, there’s a possibility for Oyafune Monaka to make plans to preserve her own life.”
In the old woman’s hands there was a dagger made of obsidian.
Due to the damage Accelerator had done to the shelter, there was a crack in the ceiling and the light of Venus shone down from there. And this artifact could reflect the light of Venus to disintegrate any object.
Although, that obviously wasn’t a possession of Oyafune Monaka’s.
The old woman moved her hands to her face.
The skin on the surface was peeled off like a mask. Though for an instant brown skin could be seen, this person whose identity was unknown immediately put on another face.
At this time, the one that was standing in front of Shiokishi was…
“Oya, is saying that name alright? I had thought you would definitely call me Etzali.”
Unabara slightly weighed the dagger in his hands while answering.
At this time, the powered suit that was protecting Shiokishi started to crumble. All the screws had fallen off, the gap between steel plates started to widen, and gears and motors started to fall all over the place.
The old man in a tuxedo didn’t take long from being encased in armor to being completely exposed to the outside air. Looking at Shiokishi breaking cold sweat at the loss of his protection, Unabara scorned him in a mocking tone,
“Though you are indeed fortunate. If the effective area of this ‘Spear’ covered your body, you would have ‘fallen apart’ by now.”
“If that happened before we get the information about Dragon out of you, it will be troublesome for us,” he added.
On the other hand, Shiokishi was shaking off the remains of his armor.
“In the end… all that coward Oyafune did was just looking on from the sides…!”
“Is that so?”
Unabara’s eyes narrowed slightly.
His expression was like someone had just insulted a person that he approved of and held in high regards.
“My charm uses human skin as raw material, but Oyafune didn’t hesitate. Even if it’s just the arm, but I think ripping off 10cm of skin would be extremely painful.”
Unabara holding onto the obsidian dagger moved closer step by step.
“Let us talk about Dragon. Or, do you want to clench your teeth and experience the pain that the one you called a coward, Oyafune, experienced?”
Shiokishi moved backwards and pressed a button that he had hidden in his tuxedo from earlier.
A door next to them opened and two burly men stepped out. One of them was probably the so-called ‘Minobe’.
Just like a shield protecting Shiokishi, they stepped in front of Unabara.
“Did you think my security detail only included Sugitani?”
Shiokishi drew up an unnatural smile on his stiff face.
“To prevent the people around me from betraying me, the guards are split into ‘Sugitani group’ and ‘Minobe group’. If anything happens, they will kill off each other… You might be someone with battle capabilities, but this isn’t something you alone can handle.”
Taking the chance of the two burly men holding Unabara off, Shiokishi tried to escape by himself.
Unabara’s expression stiffened.
But, as he ran towards the exit Shiokishi stopped at the threshold. He stood there in shock as he looked at something.
Shiokishi turned around once more, forgetting about trying to escape.
Shiokishi directed his query towards the two burly men that were his bodyguards.
“Why is it apart from you two, everyone else is dead?!”
One of the two large men opened his mouth.
However, he didn’t reply to Shiokishi’s question. The man only looked towards Unabara’s face and said,
“This is surprising early, Etzali.”
A dull sound rang out.
The member of the board of directors—Shiokishi’s stomach had something else stuck in it. A dagger. A dagger that somebody had thrown. But it was different from a normal dagger made of steel. It was a dagger used by a specific tribe, made from polishing obsidian stone.
It was not something that belonged to Unabara.
The person that had thrown it was someone that should have been protecting Shiokishi, the man called Minobe.
Looking at the dagger that was planted in him by a person that didn’t even turn to look at him, Shiokishi stood in shock. Then his body leaned to the side and fell.
The name Etzali.
And obsidian, a choice that was far less reasonable than metal.
“Can it be…!”
“Have you never considered this before?”
The two burly men both placed their hands on their faces.
“That someone else would use the same method you used to infiltrate into the dark side of Academy City?”
The skin on the surface was peeled back. After that, what showed was someone else’s face. The physique and gender swiftly changed along with the face. This was a phenomenon exactly the same as Unabara’s—the phenomenon of using Aztec magic.
What appeared was a man somewhere between 25 to 30 years old, and a girl around 15.
Tecpatl, in the organization Unabara… Etzali used to belong to, he was the man in charge of military planning. And Tochtli was once a comrade of Xochitl.
“Our original plan was to infiltrate the depths of Shiokishi’s guards, and ultimately replace Shiokishi. But that guy never takes off his powered suit. If we forcibly broke that suit of armor apart, the sensors would alert Sugitani. Just as we were troubled by that, you invaded here. That’s how it is.”
The brown-skinned male, Tecpatl, looked at Unabara’s face, and spoke in an indifferent tone.
“If Shiokishi was taken down there is no point replacing him. Just as I planned to abandon all this… in the end we picked up an amazing souvenir.”
“…Even if you take my head back to the Organization, I doubt it will bring any good.”
“No no, that won’t be the case.”
“Because, our goal for infiltrating into the core of Academy City and replacing Shiokishi, was ultimately to find where you were hiding in the dark side and execute you. But, since you joined something called Group, normal methods of intelligence gathering couldn’t find your whereabouts. … In other words, all we have to do is take your head and everything will be fine.”
Musujime Awaki had already been taken out.
So, the only ones fighting were Sugitani and Accelerator. Staring at the assassin calling himself a descendant of Koga, Accelerator touched the electrode switch on his neck.
“There’s no problem killing you here, right?”
“No problem at all; I’m not small-minded to the point where I’ll get mad because of some dream-talk.”
The two of them charged ahead at the same time.
Accelerator controlled the vectors under his feet and charged like a bullet towards his opponent; on the other hand, Sugitani took a lot of lighters from his pocket. He threw these modified lighters that were locked at releasing gas in front of him, and then threw the still-lit cigarette into them.
Boom!! A wall of fire shot up in the half-ruined corridor.
But, that didn’t work when faced with Accelerator’s ‘Reflect’.
He unhesitatingly charged through the wall of fire,
(There’s no one here?)
Accelerator lost his target and suddenly braked. But it was too late. Sugitani used the smokescreen and nimbly moved behind Accelerator.
“I remember that Kihara Amata once used the technique of drawing back his fist an instant before receiving impact to break through the reflection obstacle.”
The voice came from his blind spot, along with a fist.
Accelerator flew backwards in a hurry.
“Also, Kakine Teitoku seemed to have used materials that don’t exist in this world to create vectors that don’t exist in this world.”
However, the voice and fist followed closely after him.
Sugitani used footwork beyond the limits of a human that was almost like sliding to keep himself in the same distance between him and Accelerator.
After that, a ‘boom’ rang out.
Accelerator’s face was feeling some numbing pain, while Sugitani jumped out of the ring for the first time in this battle.
“So that’s it.”
Sugitani shook his wrist.
It seemed to have sprained, the joints had swelled up a lot.
“Those special exceptions are all results of their own specialized fields. Just by observing them I can’t perfectly recreate their techniques.”
Even so, to have struck Accelerator’s head without any abilities needed top level skills. For any normal grunt that attacked, it wouldn’t just stop at a swollen hand, they would be hurt to the extent of losing control of their own blood stream and have their internal organs shattered.
After calmly analyzing, Accelerator said scornfully.
“Even if you have some skill, in the end you’re just following the orders from a scheming old man. For a bastard like that, you actually still have the face to say something like being a ‘descendant of people that serve in the name of justice’?”
“Does that bastard Shiokishi look like a good person? It’s right for you to serve him? Don’t make me laugh, it’s obvious to anyone.”
“… Indeed, the term ‘justice’ is always being used by those in position of power. Even if that is not the case, a perfect standard for justice does not exist.”
But, Sugitani unhesitatingly added,
“Then, by giving everything to Evil won’t every last problem on Earth be solved just like that?”
Accelerator and Sugitani glared at each other.
Feeling the look of ‘Evil’, ‘Good’ faced it head on and argued,
“Stop joking. All your ‘Evil’ can do is pick at the scraps left behind by ‘Good’. With your level only at stopping two or three tragedies, you want to defeat us who face hundreds and thousands of tragedies on a regular basis? You people are merely scavengers, do you truly believe that the scraps you pick up are enough to satisfy the entire world?”
Hearing those words, Accelerator replied in the same mocking manner,
“From the moment you thought that these scraps were insignificant, your ‘Good’ was no longer truly good.”
Sugitani’s brows narrowed.
“Are you saying that even a villain like you know a Good person?”
The reply this time was a bit hesitating.
“Of course I do… and familiar to the point where my head hurts just thinking about that guy.”
“Is that so.”
Sugitani said that while reaching inside his pocket.
“But, you’ll never meet with that Good person you know ever again… because you will die here.”
Right after that,
Accelerator’s choker suddenly lost its capabilities.
The Strongest Level 5 of Academy City fell onto the floor. He struggled to move his limbs, but it didn’t do anything.
“As you are right now, you probably can’t even understand human speech. Your choker has been modified into something that can be remotely controlled. As long as we cut you off from the Misaka Network, you have zero battle potential.”
At this point, Sugitani’s eyes moved to look at Accelerator’s crutch.
It looked different to what the data had said. It had been modified somewhat, probably to allow the user to stand up by himself even if the choker lost power completely. Though it didn’t seem to do much at this point.
“This is my ‘Good.’”
While he was saying that, Sugitani took out a large caliber handgun.
It was the gun that had killed off every last terrorist back at the District 3 private salon. To kill Accelerator who had lost his Reflect, it only needed one shot.
“This is the method of a man who lives in a world of despicable people yet still follows justice.”
Don!! A deafening gunshot rang out.
Stephanie Gorgeouspalace pulled the trigger of her light machine shotgun.
The unrefined mass of metal shined eerily in the reflections of the flames spilling throughout the underground mall. At a range of 10 meters, the storm of bullets held enough power to blow away a normal armored vehicle in a few seconds. It would truly make it look like a spread out diagram of the sides of a die.
Kinuhata Saiai protected her body with the ability known as Offense Armor, but that had its limits.
By creating repeated explosions from propane tanks, Stephanie had blown the air away briefly creating an extremely small vacuum near Kinuhata. In that vacuum, she had no barrier of nitrogen. Stephanie’s bullets would pass right through.
Stephanie had not hesitated.
She had pulled the trigger to spray bullets in through that momentary opening.
The powerful storm of bullets whipped up the surrounding air, swallowed up the black smoke, and even caused the wall of flames to waver. The repeated gunshots drowned out all other noise as the lead bullets cut into the area Kinuhata was in. It was clearly a fatal blow, but Stephanie did not stop there. She continued holding down the trigger letting more and more and more bullets fly.
It may have been hard to tell because she was using a monstrous weapon like the light machine shotgun, but Stephanie Gorgeouspalace’s fighting style was based on an Anti-Skill foundation.
The stronger an esper was, the more irregular their fighting style tended to become, but she was the opposite. However, that did not mean that her skill was average or ordinary.
Humans could perfect their foundations over many years getting rid of what wasn’t needed. It was clear just how strong one would become if they did that.
In other words, her bullets all accurately attacked her target without wasting any.
She heard a male voice coming from another part of the underground mall cut off by the barrier of flames.
It was as if the boy were giving her death cry for her.
Stephanie’s face did not brighten up.
It wasn’t that she thought she had failed. She couldn’t see due to the flames and smoke, but Kinuhata Saiai’s body had surely been turned to mincemeat.
She didn’t like that it had been so easy.
She was taking revenge for Sunazara Chimitsu, but it had ended so simply.
She was supposed to have caused much, much, much more pain.
Why had it ended so simply?
“…This has to be a fucking joke.” Stephanie heard a grinding noise as she clenched her teeth so tightly she thought her skull would bend. “This isn’t how I wanted to take you out. This is only the beginning! Don’t end this here!! You’re the one who took out Sunazara-san! He wouldn’t die this easily!! Suffer more! Beg for your life more!! Stand up! Stand up and let me kill you!! Keep coming back to life so I can kill you 1000 tiiiiiiimmmmmeeeesssssss!!!!!”
The power behind the bullets caused a gust of wind as if the air were expanding.
The black smoke struck her face and she inhaled it through her nose causing her to cough. She finally let go of the light machine shotgun’s trigger.
The wall of black smoke started to clear up.
What was behind it started to become visible.
“It can’t end like this,” Stephanie spat out.
And then a gunshot rang out.
Accompanying that single gunshot, a bullet hole opened up in Stephanie’s gut.
She then saw Kinuhata Saiai on the other side of the smoke holding out a handgun.
With a look of surprise, Stephanie stared at Kinuhata.
The girl was not unscathed. She had a large bruise on her small face as if she had been punched and there was blood oozing from her bared thighs, but that was it. She had none of the wounds one would expect from the light machine shotgun. Her flesh, bones, and organs had not been torn to pieces.
Stephanie could not understand.
She decided to aim her gun back at Kinuhata.
However, the single bullet had dulled her movements more than she had expected.
Before she could aim the light machine shotgun’s barrel, Kinuhata fired again. A second and then a third bullet struck Stephanie’s arms and the giant gun slid across the floor.
“You said you didn’t want me to die, but it looks more like it was super trouble for you.”
“How…?” Stephanie asked.
She then noticed something on the ground. It was a metal can about the size of a can of hairspray. However, the metal looked thicker than one would expect from its size. The can was split open from the inside as if it hadn’t been able to withstand the internal pressure.
The surface of the metal can had a letter of the alphabet carved into it.
Stephanie interpreted it as an atomic symbol.
“Is it really that surprising? If you insulate it with a super vacuum between the barriers, it isn’t that hard to walk around with.”
Basically, Kinuhata had brought the liquid nitrogen out into the air which was at a normal temperature to instantly provide herself with a large amount of nitrogen to make up for the local vacuum Stephanie had created.
While still holding out her gun, Kinuhata smiled thinly.
“I’m an esper that manipulates nitrogen. But that also means that I super can’t do anything else. Did you really think someone who super understood that she was defenseless without nitrogen would not have come up with a countermeasure? And I’m a member of Academy City’s dark side. It isn’t hard at all to get the things I super need.”
The light machine shotgun lying on the ground became surrounded in flames which caused the ammunition inside to burst.
But Kinuhata did not look in its direction.
“As a former member of Anti-Skill, you were indeed super well versed in fighting with espers and you had the ability to see my weakness. However, you did not understand that I am a person who has super struggled to continue winning and surviving.”
As she spoke, Kinuhata put her handgun away.
She wasn’t mercifully letting Stephanie live.
She just wanted to finish her off with the ability she had the most confidence in.
“Oh, right,” she said as if they were words of farewell. “An esper with a powerful shield who can grab a car and super throw it is almost invincible in close quarters combat. The worst kind of opponent for me is a sniper who super accurately attacks from a position I can’t reach. …Instead of someone who’s nothing but firepower like you, Sunazara Chimitsu is much more dangerous.”
Stephanie tried to pull her spare handgun out from the back of her belt.
But Kinuhata was faster.
She aimed for Stephanie with her arm that could easily lift up a car.
The man that in actuality controlled the Aztec ‘organization’, Tecpatl.
He had with him a girl who was once a comrade of Xochitl—Tochtli, and he appeared in front of Unabara. Just to eliminate Unabara who had turned traitor.
This was such a bizarre combination—that was what Unabara’s intuition was telling him.
Tochtli and Tecpatl shouldn’t have been the kind of people that would get along well. The kind of trust where they could trust each other with their backs even when besieged by death on all sides did not exist between them, could that be replaced with their place on the command structure?
However, that was not the most important thing right now.
Unabara subconsciously looked at the obsidian dagger in his hand.
The Spear of Tlahuizcalpantecuhtli.
It was an artifact that took apart any armor that had come in contact with the light of Venus. Its effect was the same on the human body. Once a person’s body came in contact with the Spear of Tlahuizcalpantecuhtli, the human’s flesh and bone would be taken apart cleanly.
Could he do it?
Even though they had gone their separate ways, those two had once been his comrades. Could he really use this against them?
Facing Unabara who was still hesitating, Tecpatl wasn’t worried in the slightest.
“Is using something that puny really alright? … I thought you would have definitely used ‘something like this’.”
As he spoke, Tecpatl took something from Tochtli’s hands.
It looked like a student’s bookbag, a rectangular object.
Underneath it were thin and long creases, like those on a freshly baked loaf of bread. From inside the bag, several stone tablets only a few millimeters thick stretched out.
Densely carved onto it was the medium that the Aztecs used to convey written information—something that could be called words, symbols, or even pictures.
(Can it be…?!)
At the same time a chill covered the entirety of Unabara’s body, the depths of his mind were suddenly stimulated by something. It was the sharp pain the brain let out when it was corroded by knowledge that shouldn’t be known.
To him, this wasn’t the first time he had felt that sensation.
As if to confirm the hypothesis in his heart, Tecpatl said with a smile,
“Yes, this is a grimoire ‘original’.”
Looking at the dizzy Unabara shaking his head to try and stay conscious, Tecpatl continued to smile and say,
“By now you should know the fact that Xochitl had been ‘remodelled’ and had a ‘grimoire original’ inserted into her. In this situation where even the common soldier is armed with grimoires, me, the person that thought up this plan and implemented it, having a grimoire shouldn’t be something unthinkable.”
“Show your grimoire to us. We know Xochitl is still alive, so the grimoire original would have been taken off her by you… I’ll say this first, my grimoire isn’t weak enough to be taken apart by the obsidian dagger.”
(… They actually brought ‘grimoire originals’ into battle? Damn it, the words on that stone tablet are…)
He didn’t want to read it again. What Unabara was doing now was like tasting the poison that was sticking to his brain and couldn’t be removed, analyzing in his head the ‘grimoire original’ that Tecpatl was using.
It was probably the Calendar Stone.
That was the gigantic round stone that recorded the complicated calendar of the Aztecs, in addition to the process that the world would destroy and reborn itself. What had been buried into Xochitl was a derivative of that Calendar Stone. The grimoire that Tecpatl wielded was probably a grimoire that focused on another derivative.
Unabara raised his head.
As he tried not to focus his consciousness on Tecpatl’s grimoire, he said,
“Is that the records about the Moon Rabbit…”
“You actually tried to ‘read’ this thing? You’re a surprisingly rash person.”
Tecpatl had done something to make sure the knowledge of the stone tablet didn’t enter his head. He casually tapped the stone tablet and said,
“It’s the story about the time when the fifth sun was created. The moon that was born at the same time, its light was brighter than what the gods expected—to the point where the sun and the moon couldn’t be distinguished from one another. To avoid that, the gods threw rabbits towards the moon to weaken its glow… using that legend, things like this can be achieved.”
Before his voice had even ceased,
Something shot out of Tecpatl’s hand, and the walls on this side of the shelter were smashed apart from the inside.
This blow easily pierced through a shelter that was capable of stopping a nuclear bomb, and directly hit the private forces of Shiokishi that were fighting outside.
“Don’t dodge it.”
Tecpatl said while smiling.
“You see, if you dodge a few dozen people outside will die. Originally this should be a strike that can reach other astral bodies… guess the ‘rabbit bones’ that were used as the raw material are just inferior.”
Unabara was shocked.
However, he wasn’t shocked by the destructive force of that last attack.
What he was staring at was Tochtli who was next to Tecpatl.
Her index finger was drooping like a squid’s feelers, and shaking.
“… What have you done?”
Unabara asked with trembling lips.
“What have you done to Tochtli?!”
“The ‘rabbit bones’. You can't understand if I don’t spell it out for you?”
What Tecpatl had used was some sort of projectile attack. Add to that the term ‘rabbit bones’, it was not hard to think of what had just happened.
(Why would Tochtli obediently…)
Unabara stared at the brown-skinned girl with justified question in his eyes. At this time, Tochtli opened her mouth. What came out of it was,
“… … ah, … awa… … ugu…”
This time, all warmth suddenly disappeared from Unabara’s back.
It couldn’t be called human speech. The brain that was used for thinking and the heart, none of it was left. Looking at Unabara who was shocked speechless, Tecpatl finally laughed like he couldn’t hold it in anymore.
Why would she help him to that extent.
Tochtli and Tecpatl were obviously two people that could not cooperate together.
The answer was very simple.
No matter what,
If they were a normal person, who would offer their bones to someone else without anesthesia?
“Hahahaha! Look how interesting she is. There are not even half of her bones remaining inside her body. Even though the grimoire recorded ways to replace human bones with obsidian, I’m told the process is excruciating. And yet I just fired one like that. Eh, to me, as long as the ‘rabbit bones’ can be replaced it’ll be alright.”
Unabara’s lips couldn’t stop trembling.
In this time, the squid-like finger of Tochtli started to swell up from the inside, and forcibly recovered its original shape. Where the bone had been brutally removed, the obsidian filled it up savagely.
Just what kind of pain would that be like??!!
Just what kind of shame would that be like??!!
Unabara roared in his rage, and moved his hand towards his face.
He roughly ripped off the skin covering his face, and his brown face was exposed to the air.
Resonating to his anger, something moved.
The scroll grimoire opened by itself from inside Unabara’s bosom, and stretched out. Unabara directed his will to control the snake-like flying scroll.
Unabara’s… grimoire that had been buried inside Xochitl had ‘counter-attack against weapon wielders’ inscribed on it. She might have built a spell that forced weapon-wielders to commit suicide, but Unabara couldn’t use spells of that magnitude yet.
Tecpatl’s… grimoire that was using up Tochtli’s bones, what was inscribed on it was ‘long distance bombardment’. Using the legend of throwing rabbits at astral bodies as the basis, this grimoire specialized in this spell that could destroy any of the enemy’s flying spells or enchantments.
A conflict between grimoires.
The Unabara no longer remember any restrictions. Because of that, he stepped into the territory that Tecpatl didn’t dare step into. In his boiling brain, only ‘defeat Tecpatl’ remained.
As someone who also wielded a grimoire that was derived from the Calendar Stone, Tecpatl laid his hands on his grimoire and said,
“Now this is a battle between us. Let us exhaust our wisdom and fight for the position of the Aztec’s helmsman.”
Boom! An explosion rang out.
Several flashes of light erupted from Tecpatl’s hand, while Unabara’s scroll of skin expanded widely and intercepted them. As a counter attack, the countless powder that was stuck onto the skin turned into a gale and attempted to blow away the stone tablets.
The shockwaves from their attacks alone was enough to inflate the tunnels of the entire shelter.
It was not an easy battle. It was already far beyond Unabara’s original estimations.
Even so, it couldn’t be simply said that the grimoire was his helper.
(… Urgh, damn it, a headache…?!)
As they battled knowledge continuously flowed into his brain. At the same time it brought him intense pain all over his body. As he endured all that, Unabara waved his grimoire.
Grimoires would help those who would spread its knowledge. And so, it was not solely a weapon that belonged to its wielder. If someone more suitable than its current wielder appeared, it would mercilessly kill the ‘now-useless person’ and move onto the next one.
Just like a ‘trial’.
No matter if it was life or death, the grimoires would make the choice that would benefit itself.
(… It doesn’t matter…)
Unabara clenched his teeth.
In the gaps between his teeth, bright red blood flowed out.
(… I have someone who I must defeat, for that I would even sacrifice this body of mine!)
But, just spirit alone would not be enough to decide victory or defeat.
Tecpatl’s hand continued to release flashes of light, until finally it surpassed the limits of Unabara’s defense. A few bullets of light went past the shield of flying scroll, and impacted Unabara’s torso directly. It was only due to his grimoire’s protection that his body wasn’t torn apart. He rolled several times on the ground before coming to a stop.
Unfortunately, he no longer had the strength to stand up.
Tecpatl approached Unabara who was unraveling the scroll head on.
“The gap of experience between yours and mine is too large. Secondly, your protection measures when using the grimoire are too inferior. If you plan to use these grimoires as weapons, taking measures to prevent knowledge flowing in reverse is the most basic precaution.”
Even when being glared at by Unabara, Tecpatl didn’t change his expression.
Light started to gather into his hand.
It was the light created by Tochtli’s bones.
“You’re asking that?”
“A war ended. The war between us and those uncouth people who called themselves ‘World Police’. I once believed that once that battle was over we would be able to live peacefully. That’s why I supported the war.”
The laughter continued.
“But nothing changed. Our status, our position, nothing changed. We fought hard, and in the end was it only to preserve the interests of a few old men that ruled over us?”
That laughter finally broke.
“Those old folks who stirred us up with nothing but lies have all been eliminated. But, even though we punished them severely, it didn’t change anything. Like that, we lost our compass and goal. We no longer know where to go!”
Boom! An explosive sound cracked out.
This time, the attack from Tecpatl’s hand was a fatal one.
But, Unabara didn’t die.
The strike from Tecpatl’s hand curved and pierced through his own body.
Looking at the large hole on his abdomen, Tecpatl let out a moan. On the other side, Unabara only lied on the ground and asked in a calm voice,
“Did you know? Grimoires aren’t just simple tools or weapons. They have a trait of helping those who can spread the knowledge within them the most, and if necessary they will bare their fangs to even their wielder.”
At this time, Tecpatl saw it.
Unabara drew something with his own blood on the ground. They were the words on the stone tablet. As Unabara was copying the grimoire ‘original’, creating a ‘script’ of the grimoire and passing the knowledge of the grimoire on, Tecpatl had attacked Unabara. Therefore, the grimoire ‘original’ had launched its own counter-attack.
“… If you truly were suitable for the knowledge of that grimoire original, you would not have ended up like this. To prevent the contamination of the grimoire original, you took measures preventing it. Forget about spreading its knowledge, you wouldn’t even read the knowledge within it yourself. Did you believe that the grimoire would allow itself to become a ‘dead end’? …”
There was no reply.
Kneeling on his knees, Tecpatl finally fell weakly onto the floor. The ‘student’s bag’ with many stone tablets in it casted an eerie, long shadow. It looked like it was waving at him. Accept, or die. Unabara seemed to feel its declaration.
(… From the looks of this, I’m really popular with these grimoire originals.)
Unabara Mitsuki answered the question the grimoire original raised.
A second grimoire. The speed of the contamination would increase even faster, but Unabara didn’t hesitate.
He removed his gaze from Tecpatl. Once more entering his field of vision was a girl that couldn’t even understand human speech—Tochtli.
He didn’t have any obligation to do this much.
But, if he didn’t do this he wouldn’t have face to go back to Xochitl.
“Before this, there’s something I need your help with.”
In order to recover a girl’s life, Unabara Mitsuki stepped into a deeper darkness.
Sugitani stood wordlessly with his large-caliber gun pointed ahead.
On the ground lay Accelerator.
The unique smell of gunpowder exploding entered his nostril.
And mixed with it was the smell of blood.
It was not Accelerator’s.
Sugitani had held the absolute advantage, but now had a hole in his stomach.
Sugitani started to falter.
He leaned on the walls, and finally lost his strength and slowly sank onto the ground.
In sharp contrast to him, Accelerator neatly got up from the ground. To be able to do that kind of movement when he had lost the help from his choker was unthinkable. But, the remote control in Sugitani’s hands was operating right now, there should be no way he could use his choker…
“You saw that my crutch has been modified, right?”
Accelerator said disdainfully to Sugitani.
“The additional legs to aid walking and the motor, all those are just part of the disguise. What this thing really is, is something that blocks other interference devices.”
“What did you say?”
“If this thing just blocked other wavelengths, and it ended up blocking off the Misaka Network then it’d be useless. So, I was waiting for you guys to use that kind of wavelength on me. Then, after careful analysis of that wavelength and using the equipment in this cane, an interference wavelength can be reverse-engineered to specifically block that wavelength.”
When the limo had been attacked, Shiokishi’s forces had used the ‘long distance controlling wavelength’. Accelerator at the time had taken the opportunity to take a sample of the wavelength his enemy used.
Now that ‘long distance controlling wavelength’ was blocked by his crutch, and couldn’t reach the choker.
So, Accelerator didn’t lose his ability, and he could still walk and talk.
He took out the gun in his holster, and pointed it at Sugitani.
“This is how Evil does things.”
The monster said in a bored tone.
“There’s no difference between you and me. I’m definitely not a ‘good person’, so for you who uses the same methods, you’re also an exceptional villain.”
Being told that, Sugitani involuntarily smiled slightly.
Right after that, both of them unhesitatingly pulled the trigger.
Gunshots rang out.
Accelerator’s bullets sank into Sugitani, while Sugitani’s bullets were all ‘reflected’ away.
“… How boring.”
Turning his choker back to its normal mode, Accelerator walked further into the depths.
“If you call yourself a ‘good person’, then try harder in your actions.”
Sugitani had taken a few bullets, and though he lost consciousness, was still breathing heavily.
This was his way of Evil.
Kinuhata sat on the floor of the underground mall breathing in the air heated by the flames.
Stephanie was collapsed nearby.
It seemed Hamazura and Takitsubo were on the other side of the wall of flames, but it would be a pain to break through to meet up with them. It would be better to head to the surface separately and meet up there.
Kinuhata rubbed her injured cheek and then looked over at Stephanie.
“…Even if you were up against a super strong opponent like me, wasn’t this a little much?”
“I was fighting for Sunazara-san, so this was actually rather reserved,” Stephanie replied while coughing up blood.
Kinuhata decided that Stephanie was a truly strong woman.
“I’m sure you got that light machine shotgun on your own, but how did you super manage to send that Six Wings attack helicopter? Did you have someone else helping you?”
An unnatural silence followed.
Kinuhata sensed something bad from that silence.
She then asked again.
“How did you super manage to send that Six Wings attack helicopter after us?”
“What are you talking about?” Stephanie replied staring blankly up at her. “If I could have prepared an attack helicopter in this city, I would have fired on you from outside your range.”
Then what had that been?
A Six Wings had definitely attacked the stolen car Hamazura had been driving. Those special unmanned weapons that were in charge of Academy City’s air defense were not something used on a simple stolen car.
The woman on the phone had said she hadn’t been involved. The girl in the dress had also said that she wished she had the authority to send out one of those things.
And now Stephanie seemed not to have been involved either.
(There’s someone other than Stephanie who is super targeting us? And this person has the authority to super freely send out a Six Wings?)
At that moment, a nearby concrete wall was blown away.
Special forces all dressed in black advanced through the destroyed wall.
They were not there for Stephanie.
In fact, they seemed more intent on restraining Kinuhata.
“Hamazura!!” Kinuhata yelled as she was forced down onto the ground. “Super run away!! I doubt they’re after me!! They’re after you!!”
Kinuhata Saiai had a powerful ability and held a special position. But that also meant she could guess how valuable she was and what kind of person would be targeting her.
The Six Wings incident had not fit with that.
As such, it was natural to think that the Six Wings had been targeting the more unknown value that was Hamazura Shiage.
Hamazura yelled something from the other side of the flames.
However, Takitsubo pulled on his arm urging him to flee. He seemed unsure of what to do for a bit, but he apparently decide to go with Takitsubo. Kinuhata felt that was the correct decision. Kinuhata Saiai was useful and valuable to Academy City. It was unlikely they would just get rid of her when they could still use her and she intended to work towards that end.
After Hamazura and Takitsubo had left, she heard footsteps coming from the entrance to the underground mall. She looked in that direction while still being restrained. She saw the girl in the dress. The girl used a power known as Measure Heart and she was a member of the new team that had been created from the remnants of Item, School, and the like.
The two were officially allies, but they glared at each other.
“Super what are you doing?”
“The order baffled me as well. I don’t know why I have to work with the remnants of the Hound Dog unit. I was hoping you could explain it.”
The girl in the dress then said something odd.
“Did you know that Aleister has created and is carrying out some sort of plan?”
The girl in the dress paid her expression no heed.
“It seems the irregular factors known as Kamijou Touma and Accelerator are within the allowable limit of irregularity. That is why they are at the core of the plan. When they struggle, it can be used to the benefit of the plan. I don’t actually know what the plan is, though. Incidentally, Hamazura Shiage is different.”
There was a brief silence before the girl in the dress began speaking again.
“That Level 0 was a factor that was supposed to have been killed in the conflict between Group, School, Item, Member, and Block. And yet he somehow managed to defeat the #4 Level 5, Mugino Shizuri, on his own and is still living today. …It seems not even Aleister could calculate everything out perfectly.”
Kinuhata desperately thought as she listened to the girl’s words and was held down by the men.
Was what she was saying really true?
“Hamazura Shiage is a Level 0 with no power or usefulness and yet he is attempting to gain something on his own. He is attempting to gain new value that even Aleister did not know of.”
The girl in the dress then stared down at Kinuhata as if trying to provoke her.
Or perhaps she was trying to drag an answer out of her.
“Depending on the situation, he could cause even more damage to Aleister’s plan than Kamijou Touma or Accelerator. Therefore, it seems Academy City is going all out in an attempt to kill him. What do you think? Does he really have that much value?”
He had no idea what was going on.
He just continued running.
Hamazura Shiage and Takitsubo Rikou ran through the nighttime city while holding hands. They had exited the underground mall, cut through the crowds, and then jumped on top of a container on a freight train that was running along past the time for the last passenger train. They breathed heavily as they sat on top of the train as it shot past stations and through tunnels at high speed. No matter how deeply they breathed, their lost stamina did not seem to recover.
Even with all that, their pursuers continued after them.
It didn’t look like a proper group.
Dark shadows ran alongside the train that was moving at high speed. He wasn’t quite sure when they managed to get aboard the train, but a number of those shadows were slowly approaching on top of the train. That wasn’t a level one could reach just with special training. They were like something out of an urban legend. Hamazura seriously doubted he could win against a group that looked like they could just punch out the Kuchisake-Onna.
What it reminded him of was…
(…Hard Taping. Their entire bodies are wrapped in the cloth-form springs that expand and contract in response to electrical signals. That’s what Leader Komaba used!)
But the goddess of fate smiled on Hamazura and Takitsubo.
Just before the figures reached them, the freight train decelerated. They must have been approaching the destination station. Hamazura held Takitsubo’s small form and jumped off before the train had come to a complete stop. He was about to fall over and bloody himself on the gravel, but he just barely managed to maintain his balance.
He had no idea what district he was in.
A door on the wall of the tunnel was sitting open and he ran through the narrow corridor beyond. He didn’t know where he had to run to or how long he needed to keep running. Without knowing what was going on, he couldn’t come up with a detailed plan. He just decided to run with everything he had. He started running an eternal marathon with an unknown course.
But Hamazura had support.
He had Takitsubo next to him.
He had been chased by the #4 Level 5, Mugino Shizuri, before. At that time, he had been forced to fight all on his own in a hopeless situation. But now he was not alone. He had a reliable comrade at his side. So he was not as scared as before. He was able to think far enough ahead to know that they had to get out of their situation so they could rescue Kinuhata.
But then his support suddenly looked like it would break.
A tug came to Hamazura’s arm. Or so he thought. When he turned around, he saw the girl in the pink track suit collapsed on the passageway’s floor while still holding his hand.
He hurriedly tried to pick her up in his arms, but she seemed oddly heavy. It was not the weight of a human with strength in their body. It felt more like trying to pick up a large bag filled with mud and the feeling caused his hair to stand on end.
“What’s wrong, Takitsubo!? What happened!?” he yelled, but he had an idea deep down what it was.
Takitsubo Rikou had only just left the hospital. She hadn’t been doing well when she had called him from the District 3 private salon building either. And she had lost consciousness when he had found her again in the private salon.
It had come back.
Takitsubo simply could not run all out for long periods of time as she was. She could not continue to flee from those who were after her life.
But the enemy would not wait.
Even now the unknown pursuers would be closing in on them.
“Can you stand, Takitsubo?”
She was sweating profusely and Hamazura asked his question only after suppressing his panic as much as he could. Even so, she looked him in the eye and spoke.
Hamazura’s heart had been near its limit and those words did further damage.
“We’ll both be captured like this. So you run away on your own, Hamazura.”
“No fucking way,” Hamazura muttered under his breath.
He grabbed Takitsubo’s limp arm, wrapped it around his shoulder, and lifted her slender body up almost onto his shoulder.
“Quiet,” he said cutting off whatever she had been trying to say.
Despite her slender frame, she still felt as heavy as the metal balls put on prisoners’ legs long ago.
He stared only forward.
He gritted his teeth and headed forward half dragging his body along. He would not abandon Takitsubo. He couldn’t just leave her there. They had to save Kinuhata Saiai too, so they couldn’t just live a life on the run. He would turn things around. He would break free of that life. Thinking only that, Hamazura continued to move forward.
But he didn’t last long.
His body hadn’t been eaten into by Body Crystal like Takitsubo’s, but his strength was not infinite. He had been involved in more than one fight that day and he had run who knows how many kilometers. His stamina wasn’t going to hold up. His muscles screamed. His legs trembled and he knew he would collapse to the floor at any second. At the same time, he heard numerous footsteps coming up from behind him. He could also hear the clanking of the metal parts of submachine guns.
At that rate, they would be captured.
They would be captured and killed.
As he tried to continue on, strength left his knees. The two of them fell to the ground as if they were embracing each other. Hamazura stood back up and attempted to pick Takitsubo back up, but he couldn’t do it. Her body looked like a heavy barbell to him.
“Hamazura,” Takitsubo said. “It’s okay, Hamazura. I’ll buy you some time.”
“No, you won’t!!” he yelled back.
But his body didn’t last.
Hamazura leaned over Takitsubo thinking he could at least shield her from bullets. He knew a bullet could pass straight through him, but he did it anyway.
Tears welled up in his eyes.
(Please, someone do what I can’t. I need a hero to gallantly appear and save her…)
He knew it wouldn’t happen. If someone like that actually existed, Hamazura Shiage would not have been in that situation in the first place.
But he couldn’t help but pray.
He didn’t want to lose Takitsubo Rikou.
The footsteps drew closer and the number grew. He couldn’t do anything. He could tell a great number of gun barrels were aimed towards them. He only had a small handgun. In the current situation, they would be turned to Swiss cheese if he tried to pull it out.
It was a completely hopeless situation.
No miracle would occur.
And then countless beams of light shot by.
They blew the unknown pursuers away and removed the threat approaching the two of them.
He had no idea what had just happened.
He just thought it must have been some kind of esper power. The dozen or so pursuers who had been approaching had been torn to pieces. Their guts had been spread about and fresh blood dyed that area of the passageway red. He didn’t know who had done it, but someone had actually saved them. Hamazura simply sat there blankly while still embracing Takitsubo Rikou.
“Heh heh heh…” As the situation slowly crept into Hamazura’s head, a sense of relief finally filled his brain. “We made it. I don’t know who helped us, but we managed to survive!!”
With that one word, an intense chill ran across Hamazura’s entire body.
He recognized that way of calling his name. And once he recalled that, the power that had just flown by clicked into place as well. It was Meltdowner. It was a type of power that manipulated electrons. It didn’t manipulate the waves or the particles. It manipulated and fired the electrons themselves. That power was recorded as belonging to the #4 Level 5. Its user had…had…had once been defeated by Hamazura Shiage.
The user was approaching.
This was not a hero that had come to save Hamazura.
Characteristic footsteps approached as if to proudly proclaim the Meltdowner user’s existence. The person approached in a straight line stepping on the fresh blood and guts of the recently killed people.
Hamazura recognized the girl.
She had no right eye.
Her left arm had been ripped off.
A pale blue light like one would see during welding resided deep within the empty red eye socket. The same was true for the left arm. As if to compensate for the missing arm, a dazzling arm of light was jutting out. It must have been made of fairly high energy because it continuously made the sound of a high voltage current frying a bug in a bug zapper.
It was created from her power.
It was created by the #4 Level 5 power, Meltdowner.
That was not some cheap power that would manifest in just anyone. As far as Hamazura knew, she was the only person with that power.
A cracking voice leaked from Hamazura Shiage’s mouth.
He squeezed out a name despite his vocal cords and entire body trembling.
“Don’t let pitiful bastards like that take your life. The one who’s going to rip you to pieces is me!!”
This time, the true mouth of despair swallowed Hamazura and Takitsubo whole.
Accelerator, Tsuchimikado Motoharu, Musujime Awaki, and Unabara Mitsuki; the four of them currently were at the deepest place of the tunnel-shaped shelter. In front of them was the defeated Shiokishi. His powered suit had been taken apart, and an obsidian dagger was stabbed into his stomach.
“To protect the people close to us, we have two choices.”
Accelerator cracked his neck while holding onto his crutch.
“One, we make you spit out everything you know about Dragon; Two, we wobble the knife that’s in your stomach right now and spill your innards onto the ground.”
Shiokishi muttered in a low voice, as if he had forgotten his abdomen had been stabbed.
“I’ve already guessed your goals behind all this.”
“Don’t tell us you’re going to say something like ‘actually I don’t know either’.”
“If that was the case then I’d be relieved. Unfortunately I actually do know about it. Because I’m in a position that needs to know about it. That’s why I’m troubled.”
The four of them went quiet.
Only Shiokishi continued.
“That’s something that can’t be allowed to see the light. If you must make me tell you about the details I will comply, but for your sakes I’ll say this now: It is better to not know. This is not a threat. This is merely advice from someone who knows. Truth be told, I didn’t want to know about it. Even now from the bottom of my heart I think how great it would be if I never knew.”
“What is Dragon?”
Accelerator questioned him.
Even after being given that kind of advice, they had to move forward.
According to Tsuchimikado and Unabara, Dragon was a code meaning 'angel'. On September 30th, Accelerator had witnessed something like wings of light. Kihara Amata’s movements, Last Order, the Virus, and everything that had happened recently seemed to be related to the wings of light.
“… What are you talking about.”
Faced with the questioning, Shiokishi actually laughed.
He was using the tone of ‘seeing someone completely misunderstood and can’t help but laugh’.
“Dragon is everywhere. Look, it is there right behind you at this moment.”
He thought it was just a ridiculous joke.
But right after that, a few dull ‘thud’ sounds reached his ears.
Accelerator subconsciously turned around.
He called their names.
They had all collapsed onto the ground. They all had completely lost consciousness. Though there were no visible wounds, there were also no signs they would be getting back up. The Group that Accelerator belonged to was an organization that prided itself on having above-normal battle capabilities. Now, this organization had been taken down easily by an unknown attack. There was no opportunity to even fight back.
Accelerator saw it.
“You’re not Fuse Kazakiri!”
Into the ears of the wide-eyed Accelerator who stood there in shock, came the voice of Shiokishi.
“That, is nothing more than a simple production line used to give Dragon shape.”
After saying what needed to be said, Shiokishi lost consciousness due to blood loss. Though he fell with a groan, Accelerator didn’t have the latitude to turn around and look.
His eyes were fixed forward.
Golden long hair.
A shining, tall and thin stature. And loose white clothing that covered the body entirely. Though its gender could not be definitely ascertained, at least the outward appearance looked female.
On its face was an expression that was full of happiness, sadness, grief and anger, but deep down it had emotions completely different from that of humans; it was an expression that was extremely calm.
That thing opened its mouth.
Though that thing was in a humanoid shape, Accelerator felt there was nothing more wrong than that thing being capable of human speech.
“That name is not exactly wrong, to a point. Rather, calling me an ‘angel’ is alright too… At least, it’s closer to the truth compared to the rumored ‘extraterrestrial life form’, ‘holy guardian angel’, ‘the true person who holds the secrets to modern Western magic organizations’ and wild ideas like those. Though, my existence, is something completely different from the angels recorded in the Bible. So, to more accurately describe my presence, the aforementioned word should be used.”
That thing declared.
“There are very few people that persevere and reach this point in their search. Because of that, there is value and worth in my declaration of my name. So, I will answer your question.”
The true identity of the thing that Accelerator and others had chased after for so long.
“I’m the one that once taught the necessary parts of the necessary knowledge to an eccentric magician named Crowley—Aiwass.”
- See SS2 for both of these characters.
- While this isn't a direct translation, this is probably the scientific phenomena being described: active noise cancelling
- The name for the power armor of Academy City, the kind with a bucket-shaped helmet